As Covid-19 restrictions eased, a leading UK farm assurance scheme notified poultry members it will return to 100% in-person assessments from 17 May.
The move will be mandatory for all members. RSPCA farm livestock officers, who carry out monitoring of RSPCA Assured members between assessments, will also fully resume in-person visits from the mid-May date.
Desktop assessments and monitoring visits have been used as a temporary solution for some members of the assurance scheme during the past year. They were made compulsory from 17 April 2020 for 6 weeks when Covid-19 restrictions were at their tightest.
But the scheme organisers have stressed that even when all legal limits on social contacts are lifted, which is expected on 21 June, both RSPCA Assured assessors and farm livestock officers will continue to carry out all visits using the scheme’s “contactless assessment protocol”.
Covid-19: Impact on the global poultry sector
The coronavirus has had a huge impact on daily life from the man on the street to businesses. And the poultry sector, even more essential than ever, has not gone unscathed. Keep up to date.
Clive Brazier, CEO RSPCA Assured, said: “Desktop assessments and monitoring visits have been a great temporary solution for some of our members during this difficult period, to safeguard the welfare of both them and their animals.
But there is nothing more important to assure ourselves, the public, and our members of the welfare of their farm animals, than seeing them face to face. It’s what RSPCA Assured is all about. Our assessors and the RSPCA’s farm livestock officers can’t wait to vet back on all farms, doing what they love best.”
Despite the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19 and avian influenza, almost 3/4 of assessments carried out by RSPCA Assured during 2020 were in-person – 2,541 out of 3,535 – with the remaining 994 carried out via live video streaming. In addition, 93% (867) of monitoring visits – carried out on farms by farm livestock officers last year – were in person.
RSPCA Assured has also launched a new website this month in a push to boost consumer awareness. The website has new features including a “where to buy” RSPCA Assured products tool, details about how the organisation tackles primary consumer welfare concerns, and information on its policies on soy, palm oil, and plastics.