RPA Cattle InspectionRSS feed

Posted: Monday 25 March, 2013

by Rosemary at 9:34pm in Cattle Comments closed

Our smallholding here at Dalmore is not registered for Single Farm Payment and until this year, we’ve never applied for any subsidies. But with the cattle coming along, we found that we were eligible to apply to the Scottish Beef Scheme 2012 (which, confusingly, replaced the Scottish Beef Calf Scheme).

The application form was fairly simple. The Scheme operates on an annual basis and has a fixed pot of money; a claim is made for calves born in the calendar year and once applications close at the end of December, the pot is divvied up on a per head basis, but with a higher headage payment for the first 10 calves in each business. Payments are due to be made between April and June. Yippee!

So, this morning, Dan and I were heading off for an appointment in Dundee at 11am – at just after 10am, there was a ring of the doorbell and there was a woman on the doorstep. She was from the Rural Payments Agency, here to do an unannounced cattle inspection visit. After I explained the situation, she suggested that she take my cattle records and passports (for which she gave me a receipt) and check them, then she would come back in the afternoon, go over them and inspect the cattle. So that sounded like a plan.

Now, our cattle are grazing away just now, in woodland. And she wanted to check the eartags. “Will we be able to see them?” she asked. “How good is your eyesight?” I replied. Anyway, our cattle, being pretty tame, came up to the fence for a scratch and showed off their eartags without any bother. Except Annie has lost her button tag – so I have 28 days to replace it. I’ll add it to the order for sheep tags next month.

There were a few wee bits and pieces in the record book but nothing serious. I was asked for invoices to support reported on/off movements – so the invoice for buying Storm and the invoice for the bull hire last year were duly found in the folder.

The inspector was really nice and also very helpful – at the end of the day, I don’t think they really want to put us in the pokey and so long as you aren’t taking the mickey, they will try and help you.

With the small herd of cattle we have, it’s not terribly complicated – the hardest part is remembering what to do when, because we don’t have many cattle movements. For big operations though, with hundreds of cattle moving around, it must be a full time job – and if your business is in line for a large subsidy based on these returns, it’s really important. And the frustrating thing is that we – the farmers, the breeders, the abattoirs, the butchers and the inspectors here in Scotland – are working really hard to maintain traceability – and we still end up with horsemeat burgers.

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