Norfolk farms at forefront of animal welfare

Norfolk farms at forefront of animal welfare

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As the ethical label celebrates 25 years and 391 members in Norfolk, it is one of the most farm animal welfare-friendly counties in the UK.

RSPCA Assured - the RSPCA’s ethical food label - is celebrating its 25th anniversary, as the UK’s only higher welfare focused farm assurance and food labelling scheme.

And with an impressive 391 members in Norfolk, according to the charity, it is one of the most welfare-friendly farming counties in the UK. 

Norfolk-based RSPCA Assured farm assessor, Mark Robertson, says:

“Norfolk is the county with the second-highest number of RSPCA Assured farms, which perhaps may come as no surprise given its strong agricultural heritage, but none-the-less it’s something to be really proud of.

“The standards our pig and poultry members in Norfolk have to meet to qualify for the RSPCA Assured scheme are really tough. And it is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our Norfolk farmers, that the vast majority of UK free-range and barn egg producers, and one-fifth of pig farmers are now RSPCA Assured certified.  Now that really is something to celebrate.”

One pig farmer, Andrew Summers from North Norfolk, has been a member of RSPCA Assured since it started 25 years ago. 

And today his herd of breeding sows has grown from 150 to 630 animals. Commenting on why their welfare is so important to him, he says:

“The RSPCA standards help me to rear happy, healthy pigs and I firmly believe that if you look after pigs well, they will look after you. At the end of the day, you don’t work in this business to make big money – you have to enjoy it. And seeing my pigs happy and thriving brings me pleasure every day.” And that’s not all there is to celebrate. 

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RSPCA Assured has achieved 58% recognition amongst its target market (young professionals and families) four years after it re-branded from Freedom Food.

This is more than two and a half times the awareness level (19%) measured when the new logo first launched in 2015, exceeding the charity’s expectations. General consumer awareness has also continued to increase from 15% in 2015 to 51% today. Robertson adds: 

“Despite a difficult political backdrop of uncertainty for the food and farming industry, these results continue to reflect the growing trend for ethical food in Norfolk and throughout the UK, and are further reassurance that people are standing firm by farm animal welfare.”     

The scheme has also reported it now has nearly 1,300 different labelled products. 

Further, the amount of food carrying the RSPCA Assured label increased by nearly 25% between 2016 and 2018. Robertson concludes: 

“The RSPCA set the scheme up in 1994 with the aim of improving the welfare of as many farm animals as possible. Twenty-five years on and with nearly 25 million animals - plus millions of fish - now being farmed under the RSPCA Assured scheme, we’re really proud of what we’ve achieved.

“And with the continued support of all our members in Norfolk, we are confident that whatever challenges or opportunities Brexit may bring, RSPCA Assured will continue to deliver further benefits for farm animal welfare, the food industry and consumers alike.”

Mark Robertson

Date: 01 Nov 2019