In general, the majority of non-compliances found during the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS) audit relate to record-keeping and, in particular, recording of animal remedies (usage and purchase), a spokesperson for Bord Bia has revealed to That’s Farming.
Ensuring you have a full and complete record of all medicine purchases and medicine usages before the audit will “eliminate” any non-compliances, the spokesperson highlighted to the publication’s editor, Catherina Cunnane.
They outlined that for new applicants, all records required under the scheme must have been correctly maintained for a period of at least six months prior to the audit.
For animal remedy usage, you must record the following:
- Date of administration;
- Name of medicine;
- Quantity administered;
- Identification of animal;
- Name of person giving the medicine/remedy or the name of the prescribing vet;
- Date of the end of the withdrawal period. According to the spokesperson, a common mistake is to insert the number of withdrawal days instead of the date of the end of the withdrawal period.
How to record correctly
Where an individual animal is treated, the identity of the animal must be clearly documented, for example, using the tag number or freeze brand.
Where the remedy is administered to a group of animals, it must be possible to clearly identify each animal in the group from the relevant herd register (e.g. all calves born January 1st – March 31st only).
The spokesperson advised that animal remedy purchase records can be kept using computer-based records, by using a manual, such as the Bord Bia Farm Book, or by retaining vet’s prescriptions for the previous six months.
The following details must be included:
- Date of purchase;
- Medicine name;
- Quantity purchased;
- Name and address of the supplier.
How to keep records
Farmers have several options with regard to where they maintain records.
In some cases, the spokesperson explained, the retention of invoices/statements will suffice.
Software packages may be used, or any other format that allows you to record all the required detail as set out in the standards.
Records only need to be kept in one location, the spokesperson highlighted.
“Consistency is what auditors are trying to establish when reviewing farm records during an audit.”
“They do this by determining the correlation between the records, what is observed during the audit and any information you provide during the audit.”
The audit is conducted in a close-out model, which means you will not fail on the day of the audit if issues arise, the spokesperson added.
Instead, you will have a period of up to 28 days to address non-compliances.
The Bord Bia Helpdesk is also available to assist to ‘close-out’ the audit. Evidence can be provided by post, text message or email. You can also upload evidence by logging onto farm.bordbia.ie.
You can also nominate an individual, such as a relative or neighbour, to complete the close-out on your behalf.
The close-out process does not apply if no issues are raised during the audit.
In these cases, the audit report will go immediately to the certification body.
As part of the audit process, you are required to complete a sustainability survey, in which you report on farm management activity.
The sustainability survey is used to calculate each farm’s carbon footprint and grass-fed calculation. The survey must be completed before the audit using the online portal at farm.bordbia.ie and the PIN received on application.
Alternatively, you can contact the Bord Bia Helpdesk, and they will assist you.
All data provided must be from the previous calendar year; for example, if your audit takes place in April 2023, you report from the previous January to December 2022.
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