This article is part five in a six part series discussing certified farm animal welfare audits brought to you by Michigan State University Extension. This article will discuss some of the things to expect and ways to be prepared on the day of your Certified Farm Animal Welfare Audit.
An audit is a documented snapshot in time. If you know the date and time of the audit, then there is no excuse not to put your best foot forward. First impressions are a valuable tool. First and foremost, be on time for the audit. If you cannot be on time, have someone else who has enough authority to get the audit started available and waiting for the auditor. Audits can take the better part of a day, so make sure you do not have other things scheduled that would interfere. If there is somewhere you must go that will take you away from the audit, then have someone else available to fill in for you.
A neat, clean and organized place for you and the auditor to review programs and paperwork is very important. This can be your farm’s office if you have one or your dining room table if that is the only place you have enough space to spread out and look at paperwork with the auditor. Your Farm Management Program in a binder and documentation records in files or stacks ready for review shows the auditor you’ve read the audit and you are prepared for the day.
Discuss the audit with your employees. They need to be aware of the fact that a visitor will be coming to audit the farm. Make sure they understand that they are to do their jobs the same as they always do. However, they also need to know that the auditor may want to interview them and ask them questions about their jobs or the training they receive. Auditors understand that sometimes employees get nervous when they are asked questions, and are usually very good about making people feel comfortable during the interview.
During the audit, as the auditor sees a deficiency, they will point it out to you. In most cases, points will be deducted for the non-conformance. This is reviewed at the very end of the audit day. If you have the ability to correct a deficiency immediately, then do so. It doesn’t mean that points won’t be deducted, but it will be noted by the auditor in their report that you made immediate corrective actions.
At the closing meeting, the auditor will discuss the findings with you. If you have disagreement with the auditor, you can discuss it during the closing meeting. It is likely that if you disagree with findings, you will need to explain in writing to the certifying entity when you make your corrective actions. This will be discussed in Part 6 of this series by Michigan State University Extention.