Inspection burden on dairy farmers to be lifted

Dairy hygiene inspections could be cut to once in 10 years in England and Wales as part of plans to slash £1.2m in the cost of carrying out the checks.

Under proposals by the Food Standards Agency, from April this year official Animal Health Dairy Hygiene inspections on Red Tractor-assured dairy farms will be cut by 90% to once every decade.

Non-assured farms will be inspected every two years. The plans, which are under consultation until 14 March, would save taxpayers £1.2m a year and farmers more than £130,000. The move would see inspections slashed from 11,335 a year to 2890.

Andrew Rhodes, FSA director of operations, said the plans were good news for consumers and the dairy industry.

“Our resources will focus on farms identified as higher risk and this will enable us to target enforcement action where it is needed,” he said.

“We want enforcement that is focused on driving up standards across the industry and which is flexible enough to adapt to future priorities without compromising consumer safety.”

The proposed scheme would rely more on visits already being carried out under the Red Tractor scheme, which 95% of dairy farmers in England and Wales are members of.

It would involve taking sample results from industry, as well as Red Tractor audits, complaints and information about outbreaks.

NFU dairy board chairman Mansel Raymond said the FSA had offered a sensible proposal for reducing the burden of inspections on producers.

“These ambitious proposals will make a huge difference to dairy farmers, who have long complained about the duplication, bureaucracy, cost and time associated with AHDH inspections,” he said.

“The FSA’s suggestion to reduce inspection burden by moving to a more risk-based approach recognises the high standards of hygiene, welfare and quality being achieved on assured British dairy farms.

“It also fits in with the government’s better regulation agenda, and also takes cost out of the industry.”

For more details on the proposals and to have your say see the FSA website .

The consultation closes on Monday 14 March.

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