The Red Tractor farm assurance scheme is set to appoint a new chairman after Lucy Neville-Rolfe said she would not serve a second term in office.
It follows an outcry over her decision to oppose measures that would protect British growers and livestock producers from food imports produced using methods that are illegal in the UK.
Baroness Neville-Rolfe – a Conservative peer in the House of Lords – voted against two amendments to the government’s Agriculture Bill last month.
Tabled by Lord Curry, the first amendment would have given parliament more power to scrutinise potential trade deals with other countries following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.
The second amendment, tabled by Lord Grantchester, would have ensured that food imports to the UK were produced to British standards – effectively outlawing imports of hormone-treated beef and chlorine-washed chicken.
In a statement published by Red Tractor parent company Assured Food Standards, Baroness Neville-Rolfe said she would leave the organisation at the end of her three-year term on 12 November.
She said: “I have much enjoyed my time at Red Tractor and I believe it has made much progress over the last three years in achieving wider recognition of its certified standards covering food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection.”
Baroness Neville-Rolfe added: “Its standards are leaders in the field internationally and together we have improved the rules and ensured better compliance. We have also successfully navigated Covid.
“I have always believed and made clear that upholding strong agricultural and food standards is in the best interests of British consumers, farmers and manufacturers. Recent comments suggesting I do not take that view are wrong.”
Baroness Neville-Rolfe said she believed UK agricultural and food standards would be even more important post-Brexit. And she added: “Over time I am sure standards will, rightly, become more rigorous.”