The United Kingdom’s Environment Agency has launched a new farm certification program for pig and poultry producers that is expected to save the typical farm about £850 in government fees, according to the National Farmers' Union, which worked with the agency to develop the program.

Currently, pig and poultry producers receive three visits per year by the Environment Agency to ensure that they are in compliance with environmental and pollution regulations. Under the new Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Pig and Poultry Assurance Scheme, farm units that have achieved high environmental compliance will receive data collection visits once yearly in conjunction with their annual Red Tractor farm assurance audits. Red Tractor is a voluntary UK certification program that indicates that a product meets certain food safety, animal welfare and environmental standards.

An Environment Agency officer will assess the data collected by the auditor. If no violations are found, the Environment Agency will only visit once every three years.

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“This is a groundbreaking … initiative designed to minimize the burden on the farming industry,” said Martin Haworth, acting director general of the National Farmers’ Union. “Both the NFU and the Environment Agency are very conscious of the need to reduce the administrative pressures on the pig and poultry sectors, and of the need for an industry with very tight margins to be competitive. This approach will mean a reduction in cost and red tape for producers, as well as protecting the environment.”

Tricia Henton, the Environment Agency’s director of environment and business, said, “This initiative will save time and money for farmers with a good environmental track record. And it will give the Environment Agency more time to focus its efforts on those who pose the greatest environmental risk.”

Certification bodies participating in the program are SAI Global (previously EFSIS) and NSF CMI. PAI (including Genesis Quality Assurance) and National Brittania are working towards being licensed.