FARMING MATTERS: An Inspector Calls
The principle behind these inspections is to reassure the consumer that farmers are doing their jobs correctly and that, amongst other things, livestock are being well looked after and nothing untoward is being used on growing crops.
The inspectors of animals used to come from an organisation known as FABBL (Farm Assured British Beef and Lamb). Currently however we are inspected by SAI Global who check not only the animals but the arable land as well.
When the inspector comes out he makes a brief visit to the farm buildings to look at the animals, and checks some of the fields, but most of the meeting - which lasts for many hours - takes place indoors. The inspector has a long checklist of things he wants to talk about and he needs to see evidence of records and paperwork.
Amongst the things he will want to see are animal passports and cattle movements, production systems, what feed we use and how we feed it, veterinary administration of medicines and health and safety.
A conformity certificate, which must be renewed annually, will only be issued if all is well. If not, then the farmer will have to address the outstanding issues and provide written evidence before conformity is finally approved.