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Return to on-farm assessments

With the continued presence of Covid-19, we shall be continuing with our three-phase to approach in-person farm assessments. As always our priority in everything is to safeguard the welfare of our members and their animals.

Early this summer, we began phase one of our plan to get back to physical in-person farm audits. Any members in England due an assessment were offered the opportunity to take part in a “contactless” assessment. These were only carried out with the mutual agreement of both the assessor and member and were not mandatory. In cases where in-person assessments were not possible, we continued with live streaming assessments.

In line with government guidelines, strict social distancing measures have always been observed by RSPCA Assured assessors. To further safeguard the welfare of both our members and our assessors, we developed our own ‘contactless’ guidelines.

A three-phased return

The timings of when we move from and to each of the phases are subject to the Government’s Covid-19 guidance, including that of devolved Governments, as well as other factors such as available resources.

As far as possible, we will attempt to give advance notice of moving from one phase to the next.

Important information regarding our phased return to on-farm assessments

  1. Decisions to move between phases will be taken only after an extensive review of all available information including current government guidance
  2. Phase one farm visits conducted only with mutual agreement between RSPCA Assured and the member
  3. It may be necessary for us to move back and forth between phases depending on reviews
  4. Due to the devolved government’s guidance in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, we may find ourselves operating in different phases


Phase zero: Desktop Assessments

Virtual assessments are conducted via online platforms such as Whatsapp, and Google Meet. In-person physical visits to farms are conducted only when required in the event of an incident or complaint investigation, or to verify that special measures are being adhered to.

Phase one: Contactless assessments with mutual agreement

In-person physical visits are made with our contactless protocol in place. Physical visits are not mandatory and only take place where both RSPCA Assured and the member agree it is acceptable. Our contactless assessment protocol is communicated once a visit has been agreed upon by both you and your assessor. Incidents, complaint investigations and visits to verify that special measures are being adhered to will be conducted in person.

Phase two: Contactless assessments under normal schedule

In-person physical visits using our contactless protocol to farms and for all members. Any member experiencing exceptional circumstances should discuss these with their assessor during their scheduling call. These will then be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Phase three: Contactless assessments, normal schedule

A return to normal in-person assessment scheduling with the continued use of our contactless protocol.

For the time being, any audits for manufacturing members will also be completed using our remote audit process.

“The welfare of the animals and producers in our scheme remains our priority. Members should be reassured that at every phase of our return to in-person assessments, we will be following the latest Government advice. If that advice means we have to go back a phase, then that’s what we will do.

All of us at RSPCA Assured are impressed at how well our members have adjusted to virtual audits during this challenging time. I hope news of our plan to return to ‘normal’ shows that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We will get through this difficult time by continuing to work together.”

  • Clive Brazier, CEO RSPCA Assured
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