Last updated on 17 March 2010

Proposal to reduce the frequency of on-farm official inspection in the dairy sector (Wales)

The overall objective of the proposal is to reduce the burden of official controls on dairy production holdings in England and Wales by recognising, where applicable, the hygiene aspects of the results of audits carried out by Assured Dairy Farms (ADF), while maintaining consumer safety.

All comments and views should be sent to

Vicki Reilly

Agriculture Team
Food Standards Agency Wales
11th Floor, Southgate House
Wood St
Cardiff
CF10 1EW

Tel: 029 2067 8952
Fax: 029 2067 8912
Email: vicki.reilly@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

Responses are requested by: 9 June 2010

Audience

Who will this consultation be of most interest to?
Dairy farmers, farmers' representatives, milk buyers and processors, enforcement bodies and those involved with the ADF Scheme.

What is the subject of this consultation?
A proposal to reduce the frequency of official on-farm hygiene inspections in the dairy sector. The reduction would be introduced for those dairy farmers that have been assessed by Animal Health Dairy Hygiene as lower risk and that also have ADF status.

What is the purpose of this consultation?
The overall objective of the proposal is to reduce the burden of official controls on dairy production holdings in England and Wales by recognising, where applicable, the hygiene aspects of the results of audits carried out by Assured Dairy Farms, while maintaining consumer safety.

Consultation details

The Welsh Assembly Government‟s strategy for farming 'Farming Food and Countryside: Building a Secure Future' supports Defra's five year strategy 'Putting Sustainable Development into Practice in Farming, Food and Animal Health and Welfare'. It is aimed at:

  • reducing regulatory bureaucracy and costs, both for farmers and government
  • improving the environmental and health and safety record of farming, by encouraging better farm practices
  • streamlining and targeting enforcement activity on the basis of risk
  • fostering a new, customer-focused relationship with farmers

As part of this approach, the On-farm Inspections Project is developing a strategy for integrating on-farm advisory and enforcement visits in order to reduce the burdens on farmers and improve value for public money. It will achieve this through the following:

  • Rationalised on-farm inspection visits where possible, including both the regulatory and voluntary sectors, resulting in more efficient working within the department and associated bodies and a reduced burden on farmers.
  • Shared inspection data to reduce duplication of inspection effort and to reduce the burden on farmers and to enable regulators to build up a risk profile for individual farm businesses.
  • Improved scheduling of necessary visits, including increased cross department/agency co-ordination to reduce the impact of visits on farmers.

A number of options for potential pilot projects were identified, one of which was inspection activity in the dairy sector.

At present in England and Wales, milk production holdings are subject to statutory inspections by Animal Health Dairy Hygiene (AHDH), on behalf of the Food Standards Agency, for compliance with food hygiene legislation1. The majority are also audited for compliance with farm assurance scheme standards by ADF. There is provision in legislation2. for the recognition of such private quality assurance programmes in the risk prioritisation of official controls. The FSA has applied this principle to official controls in those primary sectors where food hygiene requirements had not applied prior to the introduction of new hygiene controls in 2006 and has now assessed whether the approach might be extended to the dairy sector where official controls on milk production premises have been established for many years.

Proposals:

Key proposals:

  • Dairy farms classified as Category 4 (lowest risk) at their last AHDH inspection and which have ADF status will have their official inspection frequency reduced. For these farms, inspection would take place at least once every 10 years, as opposed to once every 19-24 months at present.
  • Dairy farms classified as Category 3 at their last AHDH inspection and which have ADF status would in future be subject to official inspection at least once every five years as opposed to once every 13-18 months at present.
  • In order that the above changes can be implemented, certain measures will first need be put in place to ensure that there is good co-operation between the FSA, AHDH and ADF.
  • Consideration has been given as to whether changes could be made to the inspection frequency for higher risk category farms (Categories 1 and 2). Evidence from the FSA’s analysis did not support a similar approach for AHDH higher risk farms at the present time. However, a further analysis and review of the potential to extend these changes to Category 2 farms will be carried out after the new procedures have been in operation for 12 months.

Consultation Process:

  1. Stakeholders are asked to comment on the proposals to reduce official inspection frequency on lower risk dairy farms as identified above.
  2. Stakeholders are also asked to comment on the costs and benefits (both monetised and non monetised) identified in the draft Impact Assessment for Options 1, 2 and 3.

We welcome comments from all stakeholders. Please send your response by email or post using the contact details given. All responses received as part of this consultation will be given careful consideration. These will be summarised and published on the Agency‟s website in due course.

Responses:

Responses are required by close 9 June 2010. Please state, in your response, whether you are responding as a private individual or on behalf of an organisation/company (including details of any stakeholders your organisation represents).

Further information

This consultation has been prepared in accordance with the HM Government Code of Practice on Consultation, which states that a consultation must follow better regulation best practice, including carrying out an Impact Assessment (Regulatory Impact Assessment in Scotland). The assessment is included in the consultation documents.

We are interested in what you thought of this consultation and would therefore welcome your general feedback on both the consultation package and overall consultation process. If you would like to assist us to improve the quality of future consultations, please feel free to share your thoughts with us by using the consultation feedback questionnaire.

Publication of personal data and confidentiality of responses

In accordance with the FSA principle of openness we shall keep a copy of the completed consultation and responses, to be made available to the public on request. The FSA will publish a summary of responses, which may include personal data, such as your full name. Disclosure of any other personal data would be made only upon request for the full consultation responses. If you do not want this information to be released, please complete and return the Publication of Personal Data Form. Return of this form does not mean that we will treat your response to the consultation as confidential, just your personal data.

Publication of response summary

Within three months of a consultation ending we aim to publish a summary of responses received and provide a link to it from this page.

If, after three months, the summary is still not showing, please contact the person who was responsible for the original consultation. Alternatively, you can contact the FSA Consultation Co-ordinator by email: consultationcoordinator@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk