Taking The Hassle & Worry Out Of An Organic Certification

Recently I have been working with one of my clients, completing their Organic Inspection. Due to Covid 19 regulations, Organic inspections are being carried out remotely via the internet and slightly different to the Red Tractor Inspections. In this case there was not a ‘’Virtual Farm Assessment.’’ The Certification Officer sent out multiple attachments via email which are classed as a Self-Assessment Inspection Questionnaire.

1. Multiple forms of Field Data lists, Livestock numbers and sales, Declaration and Licensing Agreement, Residue Testing Questionnaire, Mastitis Questionnaire
2. The Self-Assessment Inspection Questionnaires
3. The Annual Questionnaire Schedule.
4. Farm Buildings Plan

As you can see this is not a five-minute job! I therefore interviewed my client on the questions asked. Feed Records, Field Records and Movement Records, etc. were collected from the client and analysed to extract twelve months information to add to the questionnaires. This was time consuming.

Under normal circumstances the inspector would be on farm and would fill the questionnaires out during their inspection.

Hints for a Smooth Inspection:

• Ensure you reply to questionnaires with a typed electronic version.
• Field Records – keep volumes and areas in Metric when recording, converting Imperial to Metric for the questionnaire takes time (save 2 hours).
• If exporting manures – ask your Certification Officer for The Exchange of Organic Manure between Registered Farms Record Sheet, and the Organic Certificate must be kept by both parties (12-month renewal).
• Keep good, detailed records. Having them in an electronic format is an advantage going forward as with all things post Covid, procedures and working practices will change involving more self-assessment.

On completion of the Inspection, a couple of minor non compliances were justified or corrected, and the new certificate was issued. My client, Stuart Angell – Angell Farms Ltd said:

‘’Originally thinking I would complete this year’s organic inspection by myself was a complete under judgement as I sat down one weekend to complete. I lasted 5 minutes and duly contacted Mark the following Monday morning. Mark with his background experience in organic farming helped immensely. He worked through the various questions and records in a methodical and organised manner. Everything was completed and sent to the inspector in good time and further questions from them were dealt with very professionally. Mark was a huge help and took what would have been a long arduous task off my mind which allowed me to concentrate on my farm duties. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mark for his professionalism and will have no hesitation to ask him again next time.’’

For help or assistance on organic farming matters from management to registration to annual inspections, contact Mark at markyearsley@fcgagric.com or your local FCG Office.

Posted in Business Management, Organic, Sherborne.