OF&G Coronavirus Update 24 March 2020

24th March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update from OF&G, OF&G Scotland and SOPA.

In light of the continued escalation of coronavirus (COVID-19) and following the unprecedented restrictions announced by the Prime Minister on 23rd March all organic inspections will cease with immediate effect.

And given the need for ‘social distancing’, aside from essential office staff, all of our staff are now working remotely.

SOPA Member Services continue working remotely as is the norm, and we envisage no change to the degree of support provision to SOPA Members.

While restrictions apply physical inspections are no longer practical or desirable. We are developing procedures to implement an organic self-assessment certification system, to ensure organic integrity is maintained – these will then be supported by a physical inspection once restrictions are lifted.

We expect all licensees to continue complying with all organic standards.

The self-assessment will enable the organic standards to be checked and verified without an assessor visiting the site. This will cover all the documentary aspects of a normal inspection and may include a combination of documents, photographs, videos and telephone interviews with the inspector.

With farm and food businesses currently under significant pressure we have made the decision to delay implementation of self-assessment procedures for three to four weeks while the immediate changes around COVID-19 are worked through.

This is clearly a fast-moving situation and we will keep you updated on developments. With regard to BCS and Compost inspections the REAL have confirmed that inspections can take place over Skype so these will proceed as planned.

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact your Certification Officer in the first instance.

To help ensure you can contact the relevant person effectively please look at the OF&G staff contact details.

OF&G Staffing

In light of the continued escalation of coronavirus (COVID-19), and in response to current Government advice suggesting a proportionate response for the need for ‘social distancing’ a number of our staff are now working remotely.

We would like to reiterate however that there should be no disruption in our services, with the team being available as usual Monday-Friday 9am– 5pm.