Arable growers are being urged to book their annual assurance audits as soon as possible to ensure passports are in place ahead of harvest.
Scottish Quality Crops (SQC) chairman Andrew Moir said the process was being “streamlined” this year to enable farmers to take the initiative and contact the assurance body, LRQA, rather than wait to be allocated an appointment.
He said: “Planning is vital at this time of year and I know how busy things can get.
“Changing weather does not help the situation – when it is good, we all want to be out there, getting the work done. The assessors want to work with our members to make the organising of your audit as simple as possible and understand that part of this is organising a time that best suits.
“However, we all need to work with our certification body and assessors, making sure that there are adequate boots on the ground when and where needed.”
Meanwhile, SQC is about to open the tendering process for the assurance scheme’s assessment and certification services for the next five years.
A third-party independent certification contractor will be appointed for the assurance programme which provides reassurance to consumers that a crop has been produced under stringent standards of food safety, environmental protection and good farming practice.
Mr Moir said: “We are always looking to add value to growers’ businesses by maximising cost-effective access to multiple market opportunities and to provide reassurance and confidence to customers that the independent verification of SQC growers demonstrates safe, traceable and environmentally responsible production of crops within Scotland.
“Our tender process will ensure that we have on board a certification body who will continue to ensure these measures are reached and to work with us to provide the best possible service and assurance scheme.”
“We must always remember that participation to the scheme is voluntary and membership is open to all combinable crop producers in Scotland and the North of England who demonstrate, by independent annual assessment, that they operate to SQC standard.”
To book an audit SQC members should contact LRQA direct on 0131 619 2100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org