Farming inspections

Information about who will inspect your farm, what they’re looking for and any penalties you may get.



Defra and its agencies inspect farms to:

  • make sure that you’re following the law
  • test animals for disease to protect livestock health
  • provide advice and guidance, which you may have requested

This guidance explains what inspections look for on farms and what happens if inspectors find problems.

Published 12 January 2016
Last updated 8 November 2016 + show all updates
  1. Added: Land and Environmental Inspections – RPA Basic Payment Scheme inspections and Land and Environmental Inspections - RPA Cross Compliance inspections. Updated: Environmental Impact Assessment inspection to explain who and what gets inspected Injurious weeds inspections - added 'clear the weeds within 14 days during June, July, August and September' and 'Further visits will be needed, if clearance action is necessary. There may be inspections the following year'. Inspections for environmental protection - explained that farms with permits and licences regulated by the EA may get more frequent inspections due to these being a requirement of the permit or licence. Animal gatherings inspection - added 'Most problems can be resolved on an advisory basis, however . any breaches of the rules are likely to be referred to the local authority for potential investigation.' Animal by-products incinerators inspection - added 'Most problems can be addressed on an advisory basis; however, any breaches of the rules are likely to be referred to the local authority for potential investigation.' Added to Local authority inspection: planned or responsive: Most Inspections are likely to have been selected based on a combination of information such as complaints, partner agency referrals and previous history. Some higher risk inspections may be undertaken on a more regular targeted basis. Inspections can be undertaken to assess specific issues or be a comprehensive inspection that can take over 2 hours. To avoid unnecessary visits some aspects may be assessedusing alternative inspection methods such as a simple phone call or by sending you a questionnaire. Any complaints that indicate a major breach may result in an unannounced inspection, however in most cases you will be contacted before an inspection to agree a convenient date and time. Animal poisoning inspection - this section has changed completely. Welfare on farms inspection - added reasons for visits. Also explained: inspectors have power of entry onto premises under the current animal welfare legislation. What happens next section now explains the new notification and prosecution processes.
  2. Changes to the Environmental Inspections publication: Removed section on "wildlife licensing" because it's incorrect. Updated information is being prepared by Natural England's lawyers. The "integrated site assessments" section has been removed because it's not an environmental inspection. This information is being reviewed and updated guidance will be published in a different attachment on this publication page.
  3. Sheep and goats identification inspection - added: if you have passed 2 consecutive inspections, you won't be included in the risk-based selection If there's a high level of non-compliance one year, then there'll be extra inspections the following year. Removed: amount of premium paid. There hasn't been a sheep premium since 2005. Changed selection process to: The RPA chooses which holdings it will inspect each February and will complete all inspections by December, avoiding the lambing season where possible. Cattle identification inspection - added: Some cattle will be selected for a 'double tag' ear tag check. Welfare on farms inspection - changed Natural England to APHA under 'what gets inspected'. Added "The inspector will complete a control report form and submit it to RPA who'll decide whether to charge any Basic Payment Scheme penalty."
  4. First published.