The NFU has expressed members' concerns with a change to the terms and conditions of the RSPCA Assured poultry scheme.
RSPCA Assured contacted its poultry scheme members to amend the terms and conditions of their membership.
The key aspect that is causing concern for some of our members is the reporting requirement around clause 8.3.8:
‘8.3 The Business or Authorised User shall within 5 working days, contact RSPCA Assured by telephone or by email to inform the scheme of any of the following, as applicable:
8.3.8 any participation or consideration of participation in a government led cull of wild animals together with relevant written documentation to demonstrate compliance with RSPCA welfare standards.’
The NFU has expressed its concerns and reservations to RSPCA Assured, asking how this relates to the welfare of laying hens. Accordingly the NFU feels this requirement is unwarranted and unnecessary. We are concerned that this is extremely sensitive information that they are asking for.
What is the NFU doing in response?
Recently, the NFU held a conference call with RSPCA Assured head of certification Neil Scott and head of farming Joe Bailey to discuss the concerns.
RSPCA Assured commented that they want to know in advance so that they are aware of which - and it would appear equally important – how many scheme members are taking part. RSPCA Assured commented that the decision has no bearing on certification, that there would be no suggestion of participation being looked upon unfavourably and that scheme members will keep their status.
On the question of land and different farm enterprises RSPCA Assured indicated that if the range area associated with the laying enterprise is not available as part of a wildlife cull and the rest of the land on the holding is then there is no need to notify RSPCA Assured.
RSPCA Assured agreed that they need to communicate better to their scheme members the rationale behind the decision and what they can expect in terms of acknowledgement. RSPCA Assured agreed to action this; the NFU will endeavour to ensure that this is followed through with communications to farmers.
We have written a robust letter to RSPCA Assured asking them to rescind this clause and await their response.
The ‘bottom line’ from RSPCA Assured was that the changes to the T&Cs will go ahead.
Both Neil Scott and Joe Bailey are happy to speak directly with any member concerned about the changes which are due to come into force on 25 December.