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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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SBLAS audit: ‘There is no fail on the day as such if issues arise’

“There is no fail on the day as such if issues arise during an audit,” under Bord Bia’s Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS), which launched in 2017 to replace the older Beef and Lamb Quality Assurance standard.

That is according to Bord Bia’s Andrew Mahon, who has stated that the scheme, unlike the previous standard, operates with a close-out model, whereby farmers have a 28-day period to address issues before their audit file goes through the review process.

Previously, under the older quality assurance standard, major non-conformances identified on the day of an audit resulted in those farms being made non-eligible for that standard.

Mahon explained during the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s recent SCEP (Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme) webinar that “SBLAS does not operate in that way”.

“If there are any non-conformances on the day, you are audited in a very similar way to an NCT, in that you have an opportunity to correct it with 28 days post-audit to address any non-conformances raised at an audit.”

“In reality, in less than 1% of audits, farmers do not address non-conformances post-audit,” he explained.

Where the close-out deadline is not met, the farm is automatically not eligible for certification, the scheme’s terms and conditions state.

Any existing certification will be withdrawn and re-certification can only be achieved by applying to Bord Bia for a new audit after a six month period.


Mahon told viewers that Bord Bia has just shy of 54,000 farmers certified currently, and the body conducts in the region of 34,000 audits yearly, with a certification duration of generally 18 months.

There is an FRS-operated helpdesk phone line – which receives circa 75,000 calls annually – that farmers can contact on 01 5250410, which is available from Monday-Friday 9 am to 9 pm for pre-audit support and post-audit close-out.

Recording of animal remedies common non-compliance area in SBLAS audit

Previously, That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, published an article, outlining that 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 told this publication that ensuring you have a full and complete record of all medicine purchases and medicine usage before the audit will “eliminate” any non-compliances.

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.

Read more on this news article, which covers how to record correctly, completing a sustainability survey and closing out your audit.

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