Britain’s biggest farm assurance scheme, Red Tractor, is reviewing its inspection regime after an undercover investigation revealed animal welfare breaches on a pig farm in Bedfordshire.
Last year, its inspectors made 60,000 visits to the 46,000 UK farms certified to Red Tractor standards.
This resulted in 1,885 farms (4%) being suspended from schemes. Of these, 266 were subsequently withdrawn from the Red Tractor scheme.
In 2017, about 2% of farms were also subject to additional short-notice (within 24 hours) or unannounced inspections. These are normally carried out because of previous performance or based on third-party intelligence.
Red Tractor says the number of unannounced inspections is low because there are significant practical issues associated with turning up to a farm unannounced – ranging from simple access to the farm and the farmer / farm manager not being available, to health and safety and biosecurity concerns.
However, following an allegation of serious animal welfare breaches on a pig farm in Dunstable, Red Tractor has launched an immediate investigation, which includes the possibility of introducing more unannounced inspections on its farms.