RED TRACTOR is rolling out its remote audit scheme to allow poultry farmers to retain their assurance status throughout the coronavirus crisis.
Physical assessments were stopped last month after the government ordered an unprecedented lockdown in which all but essential travel was banned.
The assurance scheme has since been working on ways to allow audits to start up again without physically inspecting a farm.
And in sectors where biosecurity is a concern, some of the measures could remain in place after the social distancing measures are lifted.
Farmers will be able to upload documents and records to a new online portal and live-streaming technology allows inspectors to have “virtual eyes” on the farm.
They can either send documentation ahead of a video call or conduct the entire assessment, including document reviews, in a single video call.
Red Tractor said the inspections should take about the same amount of time as before, and those who have successful remote assessments would not be required to have an additional physical assessment outside of their normal audit cycle.
The next stage is a more extensive pilot to “stress-test” the new system and iron out any issues.
Red Tractor chief executive Jim Moseley said: “Members around the UK have shown great resilience and resourcefulness in recent weeks to keep the supply of great British food moving from farms to shops.
“However, the public and our members expect us to maintain the integrity of the Red Tractor scheme, even during this challenging time.”
“We understand that this new approach will take time to bed in, but we are committed to working with our members and certification bodies to make sure remote assessments are as straightforward as possible.”
“By developing remote assessments that keep traceability, food safety and animal welfare right at its heart, we are able to continue to robustly monitor this, while ensuring that great care is taken to protect the health of our nation, farmers and assessors.”