The RSPCA has published a report Into the Fold discussing how animal welfare could be supported as a public good justifying taxpayer support. It suggests a two tier system that limits support to those who go 'above and beyond' the minimum in animal welfare: RSPCA proposals
The RSPCA argues that producers should not be rewarded for 'business as usual' or for being legally compliant. Tier one would be a transitional payment awarded to producers for things such as improving buildings, better stocksmanship or to compensate for higher running costs.
Tier two payments would be awarded to members of a higher welfare assurance scheme, such as RSPCA Assured, covering the whole life of the animal.
The report gives some examples of payments that could be made to farmers and how much they would cost. For example, allowing all pigs access to straw might cost £70 a weaner and would amount to £20m if 25 per cent of the national herd not currently weaned on straw were to take up the support.
Implementing a veterinary plan to cut lameness in sheep might cost £10 a ewe, giving a total bill of £89m annually based on a 25 per cent uptake of flocks not currently covered by RSPCA standards.
These are quite substantial sums given the amount that would be released by 'capping' payments to larger farms and the fact that there will be other claims on that money.