Bord Bia to return to on-farm audits next week

On-site and on-farm Bord Bia audits will recommence this Monday, August 10, where possible, in line with government guidelines for the reopening of society and business, the authority has announced.

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.

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-19 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.

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 August 2, 7,940 remote audits have been conducted on beef and sheep farms and a further 2,208 on dairy farms.

Deirdre Ryan, director of Origin Green and Sustainable Quality Assurance at Bord Bia, commented, stating:

“In reintroducing on-site audits, Bord Bia’s priority is to ensure the safety of scheme members and auditors.”

Mick Houlihan, Bord Bia’s sustainable quality assurance manager, highlighted 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.”