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How To Become An Agricultural Inspector In The UK

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The role of an agricultural inspector is to inspect and ensure workplaces adhere to farming regulations. This job would be suitable for anyone with an interest in agriculture. In this article we will go over the main responsibilities of the job. If you would like visiting different workplaces each day and you are interested in farming, this job could be perfect for you. 

Agricultural inspectors work for government agencies such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Agricultural inspectors are responsible for ensuring that agricultural regulations, as well as UK and EU law, are met. Agricultural inspectors visit locations (usually farms) to monitor procedures, record-keeping, health and safety, animal welfare and food standards. The role varies from agency to agency. As an inspector working for the Health and Safety Executive, for example, your focus would be on observing health and safety.

Most agricultural inspectors work the 9-5, though you might have to work extra hours, depending on which agency you work for. The job is office based but offers a lot of travelling, including occasional overnight stays.

The role of an agricultural inspector

As an agricultural inspector, you would:

  • Check the environment
  • Check machinery and buildings
  • Investigate complaints and accidents
  • Visit premises
  • Ensure regulations are being adhered to
  • Write reports
  • Make recommendations
  • Give evidence in court 

More specifically, as an agricultural inspector employed by the Health and Safety Executive you would:

  • Inspect the health and welfare of livestock
  • Check crop management
  • Check production methods
  • Check the environmental impact
  • Write reports
  • Check animal feed
  • Check livestock buildings
  • Visit premises
  • Check animal identification
  • Check animal welfare and veterinary treatments
  • Check record keeping and documentation
  • Follow up on inspections

As an inspector for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), you would enforce UK and EU legislation, and check that regulations are being followed. If you’re employed by Defra, you may work for an agency on behalf of DEFRA, such as the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratory Agency. Your job would be to:

  • Collect and analyse data
  • Check record keeping and documentation
  • Investigate animal welfare concerns
  • Issue certificates
  • Plan for preventing, controlling and wiping out animal disease
  • Ensure legislation is being followed

As a food assurance scheme inspector, you would 

  • Check that agricultural practice meets the Assured Food Standards (the Red Tractor scheme)
  • Ensure that current legislation is being followed.
  • Collect and analyse data on agricultural premises 
  • Plan for the prevention, control and eradication of diseases
  • Check the welfare of livestock
  • Check animal feed and housing
  • Check animal identifications and veterinary treatments.

Skills

To do this job, you will need to have attention to detail, as well as impartiality, fairness and a strong sense of responsibility. Because this job requires writing reports and interacting with other people, good communication and writing skills are very important. You should also enjoy travelling or at least be comfortable with travel and working outdoors- if you’d prefer a cozy office, this is not a job you would enjoy.

Qualifications

To be employed as an agricultural inspector, you’ll need A-levels or equivalent qualifications, and at least two years’ relevant work experience. For some agricultural inspector job, a degree is required. If you want to work in a specialist inspectorate, you’ll probably need to have relevant industry qualifications. For example, for the Sea Fisheries Inspectorate, it would be useful to have a certificate of competency to act as an officer on a merchant ship, or an equivalent naval qualification. You’ll be able to work towards such qualifications during your job training.

Who can apply

Unlike other careers, the Civil Service and government agency jobs are closed to everyone except UK, Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. If you don’t meet this criteria, the first step is to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and, once granted, after a year you will qualify to apply for UK citizenship, a process which itself takes up to six months and costs between £743 and £894. Indefinite Leave now costs around the same amount, with prices going up every year in April. As payment by installments and student discounts are not available options, it would be best to start saving once you’re sure you want this job. Even if you were born in the UK and are settled here with the right of permanent stay, this is not equal to citizenship and you are banned from applying to state jobs.

Salary

Experience

 Salary

Trainee agricultural inspectors

£26,000

Agricultural inspectors

£31,000-£37,000

Experienced agricultural inspectors

£40,000-£50,000

Further training

Agricultural inspectors go through a two years of training. This training includes short college-like courses as well as a more practical, apprenticeship-like or job-training side. You would start by accompanying agricultural inspectors on site visits and progress to carrying out supervised visits.

Health and Safety Inspectors can work towards NVQ Level 4 in Occupational Health and Safety Practice, while doing their job. They can also get postgraduate qualifications in Occupational Health and Safety. 

See also: How to Become an Agricultural Inspector in the US

Becoming an agricultural inspector involves a lot of training and dedication. It can mean earning extra qualifications. The job itself isn’t suitable for everyone, because of the travelling involved. But if you think this is the right job for you, the salary is good and you won’t be stuck in an office.

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