Certified Animal Welfare Audits for Farms: Part 6 - Follow-up for certification

The final installment in the six part series of Certified Farm Animal Welfare Audits looks at the follow-up corrective actions that need to take place after the audit in order for your farm to achieve certification.

You decided to have your farm certified to a welfare audit standard. You researched which certifying company would be best for your farm. You spent time preparing for your audit. You spent most of a day with the auditor, and have completed the audit ... or so you thought. This final installment in the six part series of Certified Farm Animal Welfare Audits brought to you by Michigan State University Extension looks at the last steps that need to be taken in order for your farm to achieve certification.

At the close of your audit, the auditor will review the deficiencies found with you. This will include those things mentioned or pointed out during the audit. Audit deficiencies are organized into three different categories – Critical, Major and Minor. Each of the three categories has a different timeline for corrective actions.

The auditor will send your audit to a reviewer and a formal report will be sent to you. Within the report you should find information regarding the non-compliance observations as well as a timeline for correction. Critical findings on an audit constitute and automatic failure of the audit. These would be things such as willful acts of abuse or neglect. Major items typically require an immediate corrective action (2 weeks or less). An example would be a missing program or missing employee training record. Minor items are things that require 30-day abatement. These are things like building maintenance.

Critical failures and some major failures (depending on the nature of the question) will require the auditor to return to observe that corrective actions have occurred. Minor and some major failures will require photographs to be taken to show corrective actions or perhaps a copy of a training record or program if that was the non-compliance observed.

Once all of your non-compliance issues have been resolved in writing back to the auditing firm and they have been deemed acceptable, an audit certificate will be issued to you. Most certifications are good for 12 – 15 months, requiring audit renewal annually to prove compliance to the audit standards. Maintaining records that are created for the first audit is the best way that your farm can be successful on future audits.

Certified Farm Animal Welfare Audits can be achieved and maintained successfully by farms both large and small. These help provide consumers an understanding of the measures you take to ensure the health and well-being of your livestock and should be looked upon as a positive step for animal agriculture. 

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