Scope for potential long-term role for Bord Bia remote audits

The incoming Quality Assurance remote audits which have been developed by Bord Bia may have a role to play in the authority’s auditing system long-term, even after the current Covid-19 situation, according to Mick Houlihan.

Houlihan – who is sector manager of the dairy and beef and lamb Quality Assurance schemes at Bord Bia – spoke to AgriLand about the process of remote audits, which will be implemented in the coming days, and the reasoning behind them.

Commenting on the potential benefits of the remote system, Houlihan said:

“That was one of the things that we set out at the start: ‘we’re going to come up with a solution here; can we think long-term on it as well?’

“You have to acknowledge that an awful lot of the farms that are in our schemes are very good; and we see from one audit to another that things are getting better or things are already that good that there isn’t much room for them to get better.

Obviously we’d have to look for the proper approvals and everything, to go down the road of doing more remote audits with some of these – but we would feel that, with this remote audit system, there’s a strong case to be made for using this with those better performers in the schemes where there are low risks so that every second audit that those farmers might do might be a remote audit.

Under such a scenario, selected farmers wouldn’t have to go through the farm audit every 18 months; they could do their farm visit on a given date and then their audit 18 months later could be a remote audit, the manager explained.

“That was part of the thinking at the start as well – to develop a system which could be retained and integrated into the schemes on a long-term basis; very much with a view to use it on the scheme members that are consistently good performers,” Houlihan said.