Farmers are being urged to have a contingency plan in place this winter to ensure their stock is cared for if they or their staff become unwell with coronavirus.
Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) suggest the plan should include a list of key contacts and highlight any potential risks.
The assurance body introduced a remote assessment tool in April as part of their five-point plan for assurance assessments during the pandemic.
However, as restrictions eased, physical assessments were re-introduced in
early July and are now default for the assessment process.
Physical assessments now include a Covid-19 risk assessment prior to every visit to determine if there are potential risks to vulnerable family members or staff – or the assessor – if a physical assessment were to take place.
QMS head of brands integrity, Kathryn Kerr, said: “Strict protocol is followed during any physical assessment, with assessors wearing appropriate PPE and adhering to physical distancing rules.
“The option for remote assessing is still very much available for those members that are unable to accommodate a physical assessment due to Covid-19 restrictions.”
In any cases where a farmer is categorised as vulnerable but whose farm has been identified as requiring a physical assessment, the member can choose to have a representative present during the assessment to act on their behalf.
Where this is not possible, the assessors will refer the member to Lloyds Register for discussion with QMS.
Despite the difficulties, Ms Kerr said farmers have adapted well during the pandemic.
She added: “Moving forward, we are hoping that the remote tools can continue to be used to reduce the amount of time required on site and allow the focus to be aimed at the physical elements of the assessments.”
A contingency plan template is available on the Quality Meat Scotland website at https://www.qmscotland.co.uk/
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