RSPCA Assured has announced it will be rolling out virtual farm assessments, in a bid to continue safeguarding the welfare of both members and their animals during the COVID-19 outbreak.
From Monday 27 April, farm members 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.
Since routine assessments were suspended on 23 March, RSPCA Assured has been working with its certification body, to develop the new temporary remote assessment protocols. They have already been trialled on a number of farms and have received positive feedback.
Mark Robertson, a senior RSPCA Assured assessor, said: “Put simply, they will be really 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.
“It’s incredible really that technology enables us to do this. And it gives me, as an assessor, great peace of mind that we can still support our members whilst ensuring the welfare of their animals during this difficult time.”
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.
Joe Bailey, RSPCA Assured’s Head of Farming, said: “There are many challenges being faced by our members, and we appreciate their co-operation, patience and understanding during this difficult time.
“Their wellbeing, and the welfare of their animals, remain our priority and we are working hard to ensure we can continue to deliver farm assurance whilst supporting them.“