Inspections as part of the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) 2013 scheme are now underway and farmers are being advised of the continuing need to keep records up to date should government inspectors make an unannounced visit.
Gordon McConachie worked as an inspecting officer for 17 years with SGRPID before joining CKD Galbraith's rural division.
Since moving to CKD Galbraith, Gordon has assisted farmers comply with government regulations and he is keen to highlight the key areas that farms should cover.
Gordon said: "Inspections can create stress for farmers who are juggling day to day tasks on their holding with the demands that paperwork can place upon them.
"However, it is important that this administration is tended to which will ensure that vital support payments which businesses rely on are protected and paid out when expected.
"Inspections can be instigated as a result of irregularities on previous visits or movement, tagging or registration queries with BCMS. Mapping issues can also play a part in deciding the timing of a visit from inspectors. However, it is important to emphasise that the time since the last visit can play a part and that farms can be chosen for inspection at random at any time."
In order to plan for any inspection, Gordon suggests farmers ask themselves the following questions:-
- Are all cattle passports in order? Are all animals correctly tagged?
- Have all movements been recorded timeously with BCMS/SAMU?
- Have any IACS mapping issues been resolved?
- Have all land eligibility issues been checked? (in order to protect your Single Farm Payment)
- Cross Compliance issues do you fully understand them and their implications on payments?
- SRDP Agri-environment schemes is all the work done correctly?
- Consents in place with SEPA, SNH etc?
- Are sheep all tagged correctly and the holding register kept up to date?
Gordon adds: "Unfortunately I have witnessed many examples where farmers attempt to correct issues once inspectors appear. This is too late, however, and will often result in penalties being levied on support payments.
"We visit farmers every day and guide them through the process from start to finish, which can help to put their mind at ease about the implications of any inspection. We are also happy to chat to farmers informally about how we can help before visiting to offer assistance."
"The main advice is to ask early for help on potential issues rather than leaving it until tomorrow."