Red Tractor's unannounced inspections

Young cows, calves

Red Tractor has announced that it will be rolling out a new 'risk based' inspection regime for dairy farmers from 1 April 2019. Already trialled and implemented in the pig sector, the new regime is part of a strategy aimed at increasing consumer confidence and protecting the reputation of Red Tractor and British farming.

While Red Tractor will not be sharing how each standard is weighted, to ensure auditors do not give undue attention to particular standards, it is understood that breaches to health and welfare standards will be categorised higher than non-compliances relating to incomplete paperwork for instance.

The NFU has been assured that there will be no noticeable change; a routine inspection will take place and reported back to Red Tractor by the certification body. However, a small percentage of farms who are been deemed “high risk” after 1 April can expect more frequent and unannounced inspections.

How will they work?

If a farm is deemed high risk, an additional unannounced inspection will be triggered at the farmer’s cost and they will be notified by their certification body. High risk farms will be informed about their risk rating.

The inspection will be a spot check and no notice will be given to the farm. To avoid logistical and practical issues, members who require unannounced visits will be asked to provide information including telephone numbers, milking times and biosecurity requirements.

If improvement can be demonstrated, members are no longer categorised as higher risk and will be informed by their certification body and return to normal inspection frequency, although possibly at shorter notice. Without improvement, membership will be suspended.

As with traditional inspections, farmers have the right to appeal their inspection outcome with Red Tractor directly.

National Dairy Board Chairman Michael Oakes said: “This new regime is not targeted at the majority of dairy farmers who work to consistently high health and welfare standards but is aimed at the small percentage who pose a risk to the credibility of Red Tractor Scheme and our industry as a whole. As we leave Europe it is more important than ever that we have an assurance scheme that both consumers and farmers can get behind and trust. However, moving forwards there should also be earned recognition for those who consistently perform well and have a very low risk rating – as the scheme developments we want to see recognition given to those farms who work to world leading standards every day of the year.”

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Last edited on: 27:03:2019

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