The Bord Bia Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme was developed in cooperation with milk producers, processors and regulatory authorities. It has been designed to assist in securing new and existing markets for Irish dairy produce as farmers look to increase milk production in a post quota era. It sets out the necessary criteria to produce quality milk and in addition the scheme has also been designed to assess and record data to demonstrate the sustainability of Irish dairying in a systematic way at individual farm level. It will therefore provide the necessary proof to customers of dairy products that milk has been produced under both Sustainability and Quality Assurance criteria.
The primary objectives of the Scheme are:
- To demonstrate to customers of dairy products that milk is produced sustainably under an accredited scheme
- To provide a uniform mechanism for recording and monitoring
- To set out the criteria for best practice in Irish dairy farming
With the SDAS in place Ireland will be the only country systematically measuring and improving its environmental performance at a national scale. The scheme is fully accredited under ISO 17065.
The scheme is open to all milk producers with a valid herd registration, supplying milk processors in the Republic of Ireland. To apply for membership the producer will complete an application form which can be returned to Bord Bia via their milk purchaser or directly to Bord Bia. The application will then be evaluated and, if appropriate, a full independent audit of the milk producer will be carried out to evaluate the capability of the applicant to meet all the requirements of the Standard. In applying for the scheme the producer agrees that Bord Bia can collect information relevant to scheme from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and from the milk purchaser. At application the producer also consents to the results of the audit being available to the milk purchaser. When the producer is deemed to have complied with the requirements of the Standard, the herd will be considered for certification under the Scheme. When certified, the producer will be issued with a certificate for the herd which will be listed on the Bord Bia register/database. Before the certification expires, the producer will receive a reminder letter from Bord Bia advising that a further audit is required to maintain certification.
Audit Scoring and Outcomes
The information collected for sustainability purposes does not receive a score and does not affect whether or not the farm passes the audit. There are 170 auditable requirements in the standard. Of these 7 are critical and must be correct. Of the remaining 163 general requirements the auditor can give the following scores:
- Compliance: There is full compliance with the criterion (e.g. the record is available, correctly completed and up to date) and the performance is rated as 2;
- Minor non-compliance: The criterion is being met in some respects, but not in other respects (e.g. there is a record, but several entries are incorrect or missing) and the performance is rated as 1;
- Major non-compliance: There is a complete failure to meet the criterion (e.g. there is no record of the activity) and the performance is rated as 0.
- Not applicable: the criterion does not apply on this farm (e.g. there is no out-wintering of dairy animals)
- Audit score is calculated based on the SDAS Standard criteria that apply on each individual farm and expressed as a percentage of total score achievable.
For a farm to be eligible for certification it must:
- Have full compliance for the critical criteria and
- Obtain a score of 60% or greater in the general criteria
The possible outcomes following completion of an audit are as follows:
A. No critical non-compliance and 100% score in general requirements
Farm recommended for certification
B. One or more critical non-compliance identified
Regardless of overall score this must be rectified within 48 hours and the auditor will re-visit to check.
C. Score over 60% but some major non-compliances
All major non-compliances must be addressed by submitting evidence on to the Bord Bia QA database. A maximum period of 1 month will be allowed for close out of the major non-compliances. The auditor will check this on the database and if acceptable will recommend certification. A re-audit will not be necessary.
D. Score over 60% but some minor non-compliances only
Producer gives an undertaking at the end of the audit to have the minor non-compliances addressed prior to the next audit and the farm is recommended for certification.
E. Score less than 60% with major and/or minor non-compliances
Producer must close out all the major non-compliances. The Producer must also close out sufficient of the minor non-compliances to achieve a minimum score of 60%. A maximum period of 2 months will be allowed for close out. A re-audit will be required to check that the required close-outs have been completed.
As illustrated above there are two scenarios where a re-audit will be necessary:
- Where there has been a critical non-compliance
- Where the score has been less than 60%.
For further information or to avail of an application form and a copy of the SDAS Standard, contact your milk purchaser or Bord Bia directly.