FARMER FOCUS: Inspections have been a headache

I am absolutely fed up with farm inspections. I have had two quality assurance inspections in as many weeks followed by a full TB test for my cattle herd and just to finish things off I got notice of a Cattle Information Service single farm payment inspection.

I had gone into my office quite relaxed, but a little under the weather with a feeling of impending flu only to find some unopened post in the in-tray from the day before. On opening the first letter my relaxed attitude soon turned into anxiety as I read the detail of the impending visit.

A feeling of dread crept in as I began to think of all the potential pitfalls. Was all my paperwork up to date? Did everything in my records match with the Department of Agriculture’s APHIS computer system? Was my newly introduced herd register for pigs correct? Did all my pig pens meet the required standards and have for example, the correct manipulable material needed to satisfy this inspection?

I try to farm as best as I can – honest. But like any busy farm, things can get left for another time. With having pigs, beef and lambs on my farm it sometimes seems that animals are moving left, right and centre and stupid mistakes can go unnoticed by me and the rest of the team. It is times like this that farming is stressful. However, like all tests, the actual inspection was not as bad as the thought of having it, and things went well.

Just as I was getting over the inspections, I received another single farm payment letter informing me one of my fields on which I claimed single farm payment has been duplicated and that I may be financially penalised by reducing some of my payment. Must my whole life be held to ransom by the dreaded SFP? It appears for now at least, the answer is yes.

Despite all these headaches the weather has remained good and with harvest being a success, there remains always plenty to be thankful for.

Andrew McCrea farms a 740-sow birth-to-bacon business and 150 beef cattle on 37ha. He is a DARD Focus Farmer and was 2010 Farmers Weekly Pig Farmer of the Year

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