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Top tips for farmers to prepare for a site visit

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Basic Payment Scheme, Countryside Stewardship, Environmental Stewardship, Farm Safety


RPA’s Field Officers undertake more than 6,500 site visits each year, supporting the farming, food production and food trader sectors across England. In this blog we offer some advice to farmers on how they can best prepare for a site visit.

As highlighted in this blog, RPA has introduced a more supportive, partnership-based approach to inspections, moving away from the penalty-based system under the EU, to farmer-focused visits for schemes such as the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship.

Inspections are now referred to as ‘visits’ and Inspectors are called Field Officers whose aim is to support farmers by offering greater levels of advice, guidance and signposting to help improve compliance with standards and scheme requirements, and achieve better outcomes.

Our Field Officers are a source of advice and guidance, and going forward, our advice and guidance activity will increase as we work with farmers and land managers to help them secure the outcomes of their agreements, prior to checking compliance with scheme controls.

As part of this supportive approach, we have introduced a new visit record checklist. This will help inform farmers of their responsibilities. Please find below some top tips on how to prepare for a site visit by an RPA Field Officer:

  • On initial contact, the Field Officer will explain which scheme they are checking and what they need to see. Having this information available and ready for the site visit will help the visit run smoothly and be less time consuming.
  • Depending on the scheme, they will need to see relevant paperwork such as seed invoices, bank statements (for date of payment of goods for grants and capital items) and other records relevant to the scheme.
  • For Cross Compliance visits, the Field Officer will have a checklist of all the records and paperwork they will need to check which is relevant to you.
  • For livestock visits (either cattle or sheep) the Field Officer will need to see all relevant herd or flock records.
  • For cattle visits the Field Officer will need to check every passport on the holding and read the ear tag of every animal on the holding.
  • For sheep visits the Field Officer will need to see every sheep on the holding and read the ear tags in a sample of sheep.
  • The Field Officer will discuss their findings with you at the end of the visit and be able to give guidance, advice and signposting where needed.

Here you can find a full list of all the records a field officer may need to see during a cross compliance visit.


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