Bord Bia return to on-farm audits
Farmers will continue to have the option of a remote audit
In line with Government guidelines for the reopening of society and business, on-site and on-farm Bord Bia audits recommence on 10 August, where possible. Members of the Sustainable Assurance Schemes for Beef, Lamb and Dairy, will now have the option of an on-farm audit or a remote audit. Successful on-farm audits carry the benefit of an 18 month certification period, as opposed to a 12 month certification with the remote audit.
Deirdre Ryan, Director of Origin Green and Sustainable Quality Assurance at Bord Bia commented: “In reintroducing on-site audits, Bord Bia’s priority is to ensure the safety of scheme members and auditors. In advance of visiting farms and other sites, all auditors must complete a training programme that covers safety procedures designed to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission.”
To be deemed eligible to conduct audits, all Bord Bia auditors must first complete training on safety procedures relating to Covid-19 and complete the Bord Bia Return To Audit Survey. Auditors must also use the Government COVID Tracker App on the day of each audit to confirm that they are not experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms before arriving on farms.
Bord Bia has also created a Covid-19 Auditor Guidance document providing guidelines on hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and physical distancing, which must be followed in addition to the Government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol. All auditors must also have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) with them for the audit.
Mick Houlihan, Bord Bia’s Sustainable Quality Assurance Manager commented on the adaptability of members during Covid-19: “Our farmer members and auditors have adapted well to changes to the audit process brought about by the pandemic. Bord Bia is grateful for the continued cooperation of farmers which has allowed for the continuity of schemes and the uninterrupted supply of Quality Assured produce. As we transition back to on-farm audits, Bord Bia’s Helpdesk remains available to assist any farmer who has questions or concerns about their certification or an upcoming audit.”
In March, Bord Bia suspended on-farm audits and granted extensions to affected farmers. In late April, a new remote audit process was piloted and subsequently rolled out across all schemes. As of 2 August, 7940 remote audits have been conducted on beef and sheep farms and a further 2208 on dairy farms.