ABOVE: Producers must meet the RSPCA’s stringent animal welfare requirements and undertake a rigorous assessment process to gain certification as RSPCA Approved. Photo: Hayana Fernanda
At the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme, we often hear from interested individuals wanting to know more about farm animal welfare, conscious shopping and how the scheme works.
There are many assumptions about RSPCA Approved, but we’ve picked the top five facts and the background behind each.
We set standards that evolve with animal welfare science
The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme’s mission is to improve the quality of life for farmed animals, with the vision of a future of higher-welfare farming.
To realise this goal, animal-specific standards have been developed by RSPCA Australia that include hundreds of requirements, focused on meeting the mental and physical needs of animals.
These standards are given to RSPCA Approved to implement across relevant industries with the aim of achieving the scheme’s mission.
It’s a complex task setting requirements that go well beyond what the law provides and pushing producers to do better, while still being feasible.
If the standards are set too high, producers are discouraged from trying to achieve them and fewer animals’ benefit… if they’re too low then the scheme’s mission is compromised.
To maintain this balance, the standards are formally reviewed regularly to make sure they are progressively evolving and continuing to incorporate relevant animal science, innovations in farming and community expectations that edge us closer to achieving our vision of higher-welfare farming.
There are regular assessments against the standards
For as long as animals continue to be farmed, the RSPCA has a key role to play in improving how they are treated.
One of the most meaningful ways we can push for better animal welfare on farm – and at abattoirs – is to work with producers to implement improved provisions and practices.
RSPCA Approved assessors visit farms and abattoirs within a producer’s scope of RSPCA Approved certification, which are regularly assessed as part of our robust certification process.
Producers who prioritise farm animal welfare, not only provide a better quality of life for their animals, but also provide higher-welfare options for conscientious consumers and set an example for other producers to follow.
Licensee fees fund the scheme
The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme is a not-for-profit program that receives no government funding.
The costs of operating the scheme – including ongoing assessments of participating farms and abattoirs – are covered by a licensing fee, paid for by brands sourcing and marketing their use of RSPCA Approved products.
Some producers also choose to pay for assessments of their farms and abattoirs without a brand lined up as a licensee – because they see the value in meeting a higher welfare standard and this being verified.
All licensing fees and producer fees are quarantined for use by RSPCA Approved operations and invested back into the scheme to further improve the lives of farm animals.
These fees do not fund other RSPCA activities, nor do donations to the RSPCA fund the program.
The logo must be earned
For brands and producers choosing to participate in the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme, the process is not as simple as paying a license fee to use the logo.
Producers must meet the RSPCA’s stringent animal welfare requirements and undertake a rigorous assessment process to gain certification.
This includes making sure they meet the hundreds of requirements set by the animal-specific standards across environment, provisions and husbandry practices, not only in the initial assessment but in every ongoing assessment by the RSPCA’s specially trained assessors.
Brands that use the logo to market their certified higher welfare products must abide by our traceability requirements and undergo a chain of custody assessment to verify that the product bearing the logo is in fact from a producer with RSPCA Approved certification.
Often sourcing from these producers requires changing supply chains or assisting producers to meet a higher standard through investment – which can take years.
A certification scheme focused solely on welfare
To date, the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme is the leading certification program in Australia focused solely on farm-animal welfare.
The scheme is only one part of the RSPCA’s work to improve animal welfare in the Australian agriculture industry.