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Agricultural Inspector

What’s it all about then?

As an Agricultural Inspector you’ll be helping to keep our food safe.

You’ll be responsible for monitoring and evaluating agricultural standards and ensuring that farmers are fully compliant at all times.

This could mean standards in health and safety, EU environmental legislation, animal welfare standards and farm assurance etc.

Most likely you will be employed by one of a number of government related agencies such as the Health & Safety Executive, Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs or the Red Tractor Scheme. Note that local equivalents to these bodies can exist in the devolved nations.

What might I be doing?

The exact duties will depend on the agency for which you work:

Working for the Health & Safety Executive:

  • Checking buildings and equipment
  • Ensuring all work onsite complies with H&S legislation
  • Ensuring all staff are using protective clothing and equipment properly
  • Investigating complaints and accidents
  • Checking safety training and H&S records
  • Writing reports and making recommendations for improvements
  • Giving evidence in court cases if needed

Working for Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA):

  • Checking farm records for stock movements and animal numbers etc
  • Acting impartially and professionally at all times
  • Collecting and analysing data
  • Issuing certificates of compliance
  • Inspecting the health and welfare of livestock
  • Investigating animal welfare complaints/reports
  • Planning for the prevention and spread of disease
  • Keeping up to date with legislative changes and imparting this to farmers

Working for Assured Farm Scheme (Red Tractor):

  • Inspecting animal welfare conditions
  • Ensuring that work practices on farm meet specific defined criteria
  • Checking crop management and production systems
  • Ensuring that environmental impacts are minimised
  • Ensuring that shelters and barns are the correct size
  • Checking veterinary records are accurate and up to date

What will be expected of me?

In general you will need to be someone who enjoys moving from place to place and meeting different people as you work.

You will need keen observational skills for your job and the ability to communicate effectively and tactfully with others, both verbally and via written formats.

You’ll need loads of up to date legal and agricultural knowledge to carry out your work and all of your judgements must be made consistently and fairly.

Your diplomatic skills will be expected to be really good as well, and the pressure of the job can sometimes be very intense with much dependent on your decisions.

What can I expect?

Your normal work hours will be somewhere between 8am and 6pm although some out of hours work is occasionally required.

Whilst you’re an office based member of staff, at least half of the working week will be spent travelling and conducting inspections.

For farm and factory visits, protective clothing is the norm and you needn’t be frightened of getting dirty at times.

What about the pay?

This will vary from employer to employer but somewhere from £23000 to £27000 per annum is realistic for a new agricultural inspector.

With experience this could rise from £30000 or more

For a sought after specialist a salary of at least £50000 per annum could be paid.

Please note that these figures are for guidance only and you should always check for up to date rates of pay.

What qualifications do I need to get in?

You’re going to be expected to have at least 2 relevant A levels or equivalent as a very minimum entry level for the role of Agricultural Inspector; this is likely to be supplemented with work experience in some similar role.

To compliment your work experience you may want to consider doing some qualifications that make your goal of becoming an inspector more achievable.

There are relevant short courses available through bodies such as NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health), depending on what your target role is.

Where would I get these qualifications?

There are loads of short courses available at Further Education Colleges throughout the country and you should check their online prospectuses and see what’s available locally.

There are also many Universities who can deliver the degree course which you’ll need to become an Agricultural Inspector – again check your local University for details.

For more specialist roles you will need the relevant qualifications, possibly at post graduate level.

What about further training?

You’ll receive on the job training, accompanying experienced colleagues for a period of time as you learn the ins and outs of the role. You will observe in the first instance and then in time conduct your inspections under supervision.

All of the inspection roles will require you to keep right up to date with legislation and you should also consider professional qualifications and membership of a professional body. Membership of these bodies often provides a structured path of continued professional development, which you will find extremely useful.

Anything else I might need to know?

Yes, as an Agricultural Inspector you are actually the consumers’ champion because you are ensuring that all businesses work in compliance with the law at all times.

It’s also an extremely rewarding job, making sure that animal welfare is treated seriously and that people are able to work safely and effectively.

Your future prospects are good as well, with opportunities to move into education, conservation or possibly a consultancy role.