In line with the new public health measures announced by the government, Bord Bia on-farm audits can recommence on May 17, having been suspended since December 30.

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.

Both on-farm and remote audits carry a maximum certification period of 18 months.

Option between remote or on-farm audits

Deirdre Ryan, director of Origin Green and Sustainable Quality Assurance at Bord Bia said that most farmers have adapted well to remote auditing – “but we know that an in-person audit is the preferred option for some”.

“Farmers will have the option of completing either a remote audit or an on-farm audit – whichever they are most comfortable with,” Ryan said.

“Safety for members and auditors remains a priority and we advise that public health guidelines with regard social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette are followed by farmers and auditors during their time on-farm. 

“Where possible, remote audits are preferable to minimise risk.”

Covid-19 safety training and guidelines

Bord Bia introduced Covid-19 safety training and guidelines for all auditors ahead of a return to farm audits last August.

To be deemed eligible to conduct audits, 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.

Farmers with an upcoming audit will be contacted by their assigned auditor at least two weeks before their certification is due to expire. They can then decide if they wish to have an on-farm or a remote audit.

Mick Houlihan, Bord Bia’s Sustainable Quality Assurance manager said that Bord Bia is grateful for the continued cooperation of farmers and their adaptability to the changing circumstances of the past 14 months.

He added that Bord Bia’s help desk remains available to assist farmers with queries about their certification or an upcoming audit.