Utilise Farming Connect’s secure online data storage tool ‘Storfa Sgiliau’ when you need evidence of ethical, sustainable farming for farm assurance schemes

By Farmer reporter

All farmers know when they’re doing a great job. Unfortunately, doing a great job isn’t always sufficient, they need proof!

Farmers are increasingly being asked to provide evidence that their farm business measures up, that they adhere to the highest standards across all areas of working and production, especially if they are part of a farm assurance scheme.

Animal health and welfare, sustainability, a commitment to reducing greenhouse gases and ethical farming systems are now on an equal footing with quality and price for today’s ever more discerning customers. Farmers are having to provide proof that they are up to date and implementing best practice, particularly if their customers include any major wholesalers or retailers.

For one Pembrokeshire dairy farmer, Jonathan Morgan, who keeps a herd of 250 Holstein cross bred cows at the 420-acre farm run in partnership with his father George and sister Rachel in Houghton, Farming Connect’s online data storage tool, Storfa Sgiliau, provided a speedy print-out, exactly the evidence he needed when an inspector from one of the ‘big five’ giant supermarket chains came calling for an unannounced audit!

Jonathan, whose family have farmed at Mead Lodge Farm for two generations, had arranged for his stockman, Liam Bowie, to attend a fully-funded Farming Connect animal health workshop on ‘Reducing lameness in dairy cattle’ at the end of 2019.

“I suggested that Liam undertook this training, provided by a local veterinary practice, to help him recognise and manage any problems before they could affect the health of any cows and our milk yield,” he said.

The milk produced, currently around 2.2million litres per annum, is all sent to First Milk for processing into cheese at its Merlins Bridge plant, before being packaged and sent to supermarkets throughout the UK.

What Jonathan hadn’t realised until he sought advice from his local Farming Connect development officer, Susie Morgan, is that because the training was provided through Farming Connect, Liam’s certificate of attendance was automatically uploaded to his personal Storfa Sgiliau account and ready to print out or forward to any interested party.

Susie explained that Storfa Sgiliau is a secure online tool which enables all individuals registered with Farming Connect to access either a downloadable or digital report setting out all their skills, training and relevant academic or professional achievements.

“All Farming Connect training courses you’ve completed and certificates gained, together with all knowledge transfer activities you have attended will be uploaded for you, and there’s also a section called ‘My Space’ on Storfa Sgiliau, where you can add any additional information you want to record yourself.”

Peter Llewellin, membership manager with First Milk, said that Storfa Sgiliau is a great tool for First Milk members and staff to utilise which worked very well for the Morgan family during their recent audit.

“Ensuring staff are trained and that accurate records are kept of all training and CPD course attendance is becoming increasingly important.

“A simple to use online tool such as Storfa Sgiliau should prove a great asset for all farmers.”

For further information on continuing professional development and Storfa Sgiliau, visit gov.uk/farmingconnect