Members of Bord Bia’s Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS) are audited every 18 months.
The purpose of the audit is to assess conformance with the SBLAS standard, not to look for issues or to find fault with your farm.
During the audit, the auditor aims to form a valid opinion based upon the evidence before them.
The audit lasts 90 minutes, on average, and the length can be influenced by how well you are prepared.
The audit will also help your farm meet the requirements of a cross compliance audit.
How do I join the Bord Bia SBLAS?
Bord Bia operates a helpdesk for members, which is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm. The helpdesk is there to explain the requirements of the SBLAS, take applications and help you to prepare.
– A copy of the SBLAS Standard, ie the requirements of SBLAS.
– A pre-audit information checklist.
– The Bord Bia farm book, containing templates to record all required records.
– Access details for the Farm Portal: farm.bordbia.ie.
The audit begins with a brief opening meeting to explain the purpose of the audit and confirm your consent to be audited.
The auditor inspects your herd for general stock health, welfare and tagging requirements.
Your farm infrastructure – yard, pens, sheds etc – are inspected to ensure they are reasonably neat, tidy and fit for purpose. The auditor will assess if there are pollution or environmental risks and any safety hazards. The auditor will ask to see your farm documents and records.
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.
The audit ends with a closing meeting in which the auditor will inform you of the audit findings, explain any issues that need to be corrected (if necessary), and explain the recommendations they will be making (if any).
Before final certification, an inspection report goes to the inspection body. On successful completion, you receive your certification letter via post and your farmer feedback report with your carbon footprint.
On completion of an audit, any issues identified as non-conformances will be explained to you by the auditor. You will then have a period of up to 28 days to provide evidence of corrective action to close out the audit. This approach means you will not fail on the day of audit if issues arise.
For example, if the auditor observed an unfenced lagoon, they would request that you provide a photo of that same lagoon made safe within 28 days.
Evidence can be provided by post, text message or via 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.
In general, the majority of non-compliances found during the audit relate to record keeping and in particular, recording of animal remedies (usage and purchase).
Ensuring you have a full and complete record of all medicine purchases and medicine usages prior to the audit will eliminate any non-compliances.
For animal remedy usage, you must record the following:
Where an individual animal is treated, the identity of the animal must be clearly documented, eg 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 (eg all calves born from 1 January to 31 March only).
Animal remedy purchase records can be kept using computer-based records, by using a manual such the Bord Bia Farm Book, or by retaining vet’s prescriptions for the previous six months.
The following details must be included:
How long does it take to become certified to Bord Bia?
It can take anything up to 60 days / two months after the day of audit to be certified if there are any issues to be addressed. For this reason, Bord Bia is encouraging farmers to apply now to join the scheme.
What are the main areas I should concentrate on in preparation for the audit?
In general, most problems uncovered during an audit leading to non-compliance relate to recordkeeping and, in particular, remedy recordkeeping.
Ensuring you have a full and complete record of all medicine purchases and medicine usages prior to audit will help eliminate the non-compliances in this area.
How far will an auditor go back on my records?
All new entrants are required to have full records for the last six months.
Do I have to use the Bord Bia farm book (templates) to be compliant with the standard?
No, the Bord Bia farm book is provided as an optional method of record keeping. You have several options as to how you maintain your farm records. In some cases, 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 SBLAS standard.
Do I have to record records twice such as in the herd register and the farm book?
Records only need to be kept in one location. You are not expected to duplicate records, provided they are up to date with all the required headings.
I’m keeping records online/farm software packages. Is that OK?
This is perfectly acceptable once they are accessible to the auditor on the day or the farmer has printouts readily accessible.
For example, if using Agfood for online herd register, ensure you have access to log on the day of audit or that you have printed out the reports beforehand (such as the herd profile).
Why must I complete a sustainability survey?
As part of the audit process, you must complete a sustainability survey, in which you report on farm management activity.
The sustainability survey is used in conjunction with data from AIMs, ICBF (for beef farms), to calculate each individual farm’s carbon footprint, which is an important part of the SCEP.
The survey must be completed before your audit using the online portal at farm.bordbia.ie.
Alternatively, you can contact the Bord Bia helpdesk on (01) 524 0410 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) and they will be able to assist you.
Is there any additional help available to farmers when preparing for a Bord Bia audit?
The Bord Bia helpdesk is available to answer your queries in relation to any aspect of the audit or the audit process.
You can also go on to farm.bordbia.ie to access material to prepare for audit. For the “close out”, you can also nominate someone, such as a relative or neighbour, to complete the close-out on your behalf.