RSPCA Assured has announced a roll out of virtual farm assessments in a bid to continue its certification work during the Covid-19 outbreak.
From today (27 April), farmers who are due an assessment during the current period of social distancing will begin receiving virtual assessments.
They will be carried out via live streaming through various platforms including Whatsapp, Google Meet and Google Hangouts.
RSPCA Assured said these remote assessments are a temporary measure to protect its members during the outbreak while continuing to ensure animal welfare.
Since routine assessments were suspended on 23 March, the temporary remote assessment protocols have been trialled on a number of farms.
Mark Robertson, RSPCA Assured assessor, said: “They will be similar to the physical on-site assessments that our members are already used to, only the assessor won’t actually be there in person.
"Instead, they’ll be on a live video link where they can see the farm, virtually walk around it and direct the member to what they want to look at."
The temporary introduction of remote assessments will reduce the need for RSPCA Assured to carry out follow-up visits in person, when social distancing measures are lifted.
However, in-person assessments will still be carried out on farms where incidents relating to animal welfare have been reported, or as part of any special measures agreed with the member.
Red Tractor also announced it would be turning to live streamed audits as physical assessments were halted last month.
Under its new programme, farms due their assurance assessment, or new applicants, can either opt for an offline pre-assessment, followed by a live stream partial assessment using video calling or online meeting software such as WhatsApp, Blue Jeans, Zoom.