Coronavirus: How are farm assurance schemes affected?

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While the whole country faces uncertain times, certification bodies, UKAS, Defra and UK farm assurance schemes are working to ensure our industry upholds its credibility and reputation while ensuring our food systems and traceability systems remain robust.

Here, the NFU’s food chain team provides a brief summary on the current position of UK assurance schemes.

This page will be regularly updated as the situation develops. While every effort is made to ensure this page is updated regularly, we ask you to please check with your assurance scheme in the first instance if you have any questions or concerns. 

Updated sections 1 February 2021:
  • SALSA
  • Global Gap
  • FAWL and Welsh Lamb and Beef Producers

It is important to remember that while we face challenging and uncertain times, we must continue to meet the standards which we are proud to produce to. Now more than ever, it is critical to ensure the reputation of our industry is maintained. Therefore, while assurance schemes are suspending inspections for the health and safety of everyone, members must ensure they continue to meet the standards required.

Red Tractor position regarding farm, market, collection centre and haulier schemes

As of Monday 6 July 2020, there was a phased resumption of physical farm inspections, which will carry on during the next month.

This will principally affect farmers who meet the following criteria:

  • Those identified as a poorer performer under Red Tractor’s risk-based approach
  • Those for whom live streaming is not a credible option due to connectivity or technology issues. 

At this stage, most inspections will continue to be conducted remotely. However, we do have a dual approach to assessments which means that inspections are compulsory.

Other schemes

Red Tractor meat and poultry processing inspections: From Wednesday 25 March, Red Tractor suspended all physical Red Tractor meat and poultry processing inspections and traceability challenges (TC) until further notice.  

In order to maintain certification to the Red Tractor Meat and Poultry Processing Scheme and/or to maintain a Red Tractor Licence, the certification body will, in accordance with UKAS requirements and in line with BRCGS, require that an announced remote assessment/TC takes place. From 4 June there will be a roll out of the remote assessment protocol for members due an assessment. Further information is available by clicking here.  

FSA: The FSA continues to carry out inspections for high risk sites.

BRCGS: Over the course of the past few months, BRCGS have launched a number of initiatives either as temporary solutions or permanent new options for certification based on experience from the use of new technologies. Click here to visit the BRCGS website and see the new options for the delivery of BRCGS Certification.

RSPCA Assured: Virtual assessments are available to those unable to have an in-person assessment. Click here for details on how the virtual assessments are carried out.

SALSA: After review of the new national lockdown restrictions announced on January 4th 2021 and those imposed by the devolved administrations there is currently no change to the current audit provisions from SALSA.
We will therefore continue to offer onsite audits (Full, Hybrid and Staged) – subject to risk assessment and protocol, agreed between the auditor and auditee in advance. The protocol for onsite auditing and the accompanying risk assessment have been revised and will continue to be re-evaluated in line with Government Guidelines. Please visit the SALSA website for more information.

LEAF Marque: LEAF Marque will commence remote assessments from 1 May 2020. Please see the updated policy for details. For guidance on conducting a LEAF Marque Remote Assessment please see the Remote Assessment Protocol and Flow Chart. Please click here to contact your certification body in the first instance.

Lion Code: NSF have developed a system of working that is intended to keep members and assessors safe by delivering audits via a full livestream, real time, video audit. If your audit is due while we are under government social distancing measures, NSF will be contacting you to arrange the audit. This will be done by your auditor as normal. NSF will then send you a confirmation letter clearly stating how to prepare for the audit and what they will need to see. Should you have any queries or concerns please do not hesitate to contact NSF at this email address: YWdyaWN1bHR1cmVAbnNmLm9yZw==

APHA: Routine official visits were able to start again on the 4th May for breeders and layers. They are waiting for a list to highlight which sites are a priority. Subject to resources and social distancing, there is now approval to restart visiting broiler sites but this will be gradually worked up. They will accept photographic evidence of records if unable to view these safely on farm.

Organic Farmers & Growers: OF&G is developing procedures to implement an organic self-assessment certification system, to ensure organic integrity is maintained – these will then be supported by a physical inspection once restrictions are lifted. If you have any concerns, the OF&G team is operating as normal, from home, and will be available to take your calls. For further information, please click here.

Soil Association: Remote/desk based inspections are now available for certain schemes; this is dependent on your business activity and the certification you are applying for. Please get in touch for further information with regards to your application. More details can be found  here.

Global Gap: In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GLOBALG.A.P. has implemented a new remote auditing procedure. The new procedure allows certification bodies and producers to continue working together safely, click here to read more. Their published emergency procedure for certification extension, found here, states that some regions where government travel restrictions are imposed may have their inspection/audit postponed.

FAWL and Welsh Lamb and Beef Producers (WLBP): As Wales is currently in a national lockdown, QWFC is supporting this action and consequently have paused our on-farm assessments. Please note that staff are currently working from home however you may contact us via email, or you can leave a message on our answer machine. Visit our Contact Us page for details.

Coronavirus: Updates and advice

This news hub on NFUonline will be updated regularly to keep you up to date with what you need to know and how to deal with the various issues raised by coronavirus. Visit the hub.

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