FAQ: RSPCA's Approved Farming Scheme

FAQ: RSPCA's Approved Farming Scheme

Producers often ask about the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme. Here we respond to the most frequently asked questions. If you have a query about the Approved Farming Scheme that is not answered here, please email us at livestockwelfarematters@rspcawa.asn.au


Q: What is the RSPCA AFS?

The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme was established over 20 years ago. It is Australia’s leading independent accreditation scheme focused on animal welfare. We work closely with farmers to make a positive impact on the lives of farm animals by providing an environment that meets their needs. Millions of hens, pigs, chickens and turkeys have benefited from better farm conditions since the Scheme began.


Q: Does RSPCA Approved mean free range?

RSPCA Approved Standards accommodate farming systems that may house animals in enriched indoor environments, or in systems where they are housed in a large shed with outdoor access (free range) or in systems that have animals living in paddocks with sheds providing protection from the weather (free range).

Many farm animals with access to outdoors (free range) will spend a lot of time inside a shed. This means that conditions and space inside the shed are very important. Producers who allow animals access to the outdoors are required to meet the RSPCA’s indoor housing standards plus the outdoor standards.

Free range meat chickens for example, spend the first three weeks of their lives (until they are fully feathered) inside and then are usually locked in the shed overnight to protect them from foxes and other predators


Q: How are the standards for the Approved Farming Scheme decided?

RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme standards are based on animal welfare science, RSPCA policy, leading farming practices in Australia and overseas and take account of the commercial realities associated with farming. Livestock industries and individual producers also provide input. The standards are reviewed every five years and are publicly available.


Q: How is the Approved Farming Scheme funded?

The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme is not-for-profit. Royalty payments received from companies (Licensees) marketing their products as ‘RSPCA Approved’ are used to fund the Scheme.


Q: What are the royalty payments raised through the Scheme used for?

Royalty payments paid by licensees contribute to the costs of assessment of farms against the Standards and monitoring compliance.  The Approved Farming Scheme has a robust compliance program with RSPCA Approved farms visited by an RSPCA Assessor 2–4 times a year, with additional unscheduled visits.


Q: Is money raised from royalty payments by producers used for RSPCA campaigns?

Royalties received from companies participating in the Approved Farming Scheme are quarantined and used only to fund the Scheme – they are not used to fund campaigns or other RSPCA activities.


Q: The RSPCA approved logo appears on Coles brand chickens but Coles isn’t a producer. Does RSPCA raise money from Coles?

Coles is a Licensee in the Approved Farming Scheme and sources products from Approved Farming Scheme producers, including pork, turkey and chicken meat. The Scheme is funded from royalty payments received from Licensees – these funds contribute to the assessment of participating farms and monitoring ongoing compliance. Note: A Licensee can be: 

  • An Approved Producer marketing their own Approved Product(s) 
  • A group of Approved Producers marketing their Approved Product(s) together under the one brand name via a cooperative or similar structure 
  • A brand owner, like Coles for example, that sources and markets Approved Products or products containing Approved Products.


Q: Why isn’t RSPCA a vegetarian organisation?

While we respect the choices of people who don’t eat meat or animal products, we believe we can work to improve the way farm animals are treated by getting involved in the processes and encouraging government and industry to adopt better farm production standards. We encourage people who do eat meat and eggs to make good choices, which is why we focus on making higher welfare products readily available.


Q: How can a producer join the scheme?

Producers and brand owners wanting to improve animal welfare on their farms, or to have their efforts recognised, can apply to join the Scheme and implement the RSPCA’s detailed animal welfare standards. To get started, we recommend reviewing the relevant species Standards, along with the Scheme’s Operations Manual and get in touch to discuss.

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