Producers looking to be certified by the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme, must first read our animal welfare Standard that relates to the farm or business.
Then make an application to the RSPCA Certification Body.
This application will be reviewed and a member of the RSPCA Certification Body will be in touch to organise an initial on farm or site assessment.
As part of a typical assessment, an RSPCA Assessor will evaluate all areas of the farm or site where there are animals being raised under the Scheme. The Assessor will check animal behaviour, the conditions where animals are kept and how they are managed, all against the relevant RSPCA Standard.
Depending on the size of the farm this can take from a couple of hours to a couple of days. Assessors will also review documentation required and records kept as part of their participation in the Scheme, and where relevant CCTV, for example in abattoirs.
After conducting assessments, the Assessor will provide their report to the producer and the RSPCA Certification Body.
The RSPCA Certification Body reviews this report and if it considers the requirements of the RSPCA’s Standard have been met, the producer will receive an approved certification status.
When a producer has approved certification, they enter into a producer agreement with the RSPCA and can supply brands with RSPCA Approved product.
Once a producer has applied and successfully joined the Scheme, they are regularly assessed against the Standards as part of our certification process.
Layer hens, meat chickens and turkeys
New farms are assessed four times in the first year. Following a good track record of consistent conformance with the Standards this may reduce to three or two assessments annually. All sheds housing birds raised under the Scheme are assessed during an on-farm assessment.
Abattoirs processing meat chickens and turkeys are assessed annually.
Farms are assessed twice a year. All areas where pigs are housed are assessed during an on-farm assessment.
Abattoirs are assessed annually.
Farmed Atlantic salmon
Marine sites are assessed every two years, freshwater sites are assessed annually, and all animal handling procedures, including slaughter, are individually assessed annually.
When the RSPCA Certification Body receives a report from an RSPCA Assessor, a Certification Coordinator will evaluate. If any issues have been raised, they will consult with the Assessor and work with the producer to make sure the issue is resolved.
After the report evaluation phase, the assessment is reviewed by another Certification Coordinator who makes sure all policies and procedures were followed before making a certification decision. This multi-layered approach is a feature of world’s-best practice in audit and certification.
Adhering to the RSPCA Standards
In farming sometimes things go wrong or aren’t quite right. If an Assessor finds something during an assessment that doesn’t comply with our standards, then this is raised as a nonconformance in their report. Most nonconformances are easily rectified through corrective action by the producer, but if there’s something that needs further investigation this will be escalated to the Manager – Certification Body or the Certification Committee for a decision.
Nonconformances are categorised as either minor, major or critical. Minor nonconformances can be a mistake in paperwork, or equipment not set up correctly in the shed. Major nonconformances could be going over stocking density limits, or issues with the cleanliness of bedding. Critical nonconformances severely impact an animal’s welfare. Most assessments however find a high level of conformance with the standards.
In 2020, 3.5% of meat chicken sheds assessed had a minor nonconformance, 1.4% a major and 0.02% a critical.
Ultimately when a farm joins the Scheme they have to meet all our standards, so the infrastructure and production method has to be conforming. But nonconformances can and do happen, although we see less and less of these each year which shows how producers on the Scheme not only are meeting a higher welfare standard but maintaining and improving each year.
Brands looking to market products as RSPCA Approved, will need to engage with their suppliers to find out if they are already sourcing from RSPCA Approved farms or discuss getting certified with them.
Then contact the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme to provide further details and organise a licensing agreement
The brand provides the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme with details about their supply chain, products and marketing plans.
The brand will undergo our supply chain assessment.
A strict chain of custody procedure means that all RSPCA Approved ingredients can be traced from point of sale right back to the farm.
Brands are required to comply with our Traceability Policy as part of their licensing agreements, and are assessed by the RSPCA Certification Body against our Chain of Custody Program.
At all times, RSPCA Approved ingredients are required to be clearly identifiable and are not substituted in any way with non-RSPCA Approved products.
With the brand, the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme team will negotiate an agreement, including a licensing fee. This fee is calculated with consideration of how much it costs to have the brand and their suppliers participate and be certified.
Once a brand is a licensee they have access to the RSPCA Approved logo for use on their product packaging and marketing.
Use of the RSPCA Approved logo or reference in text must comply with the RSPCA’s guidelines and be approved by the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme team.