Farmers are being urged to have their say on the future of the Red Tractor assurance scheme – and its standards across the arable and livestock sectors.
Assurance scheme bosses are looking to revise standards across three main areas. They are seeking input from across the industry before deciding how those standards will be implemented from November 2021.
Red Tractor chief executive Jim Moseley said the Red Tractor was recognised as a symbol of British food quality. But scheme standards needed to evolve with the times to reflect changes in legislation, industry practice and emerging issues on shoppers’ minds.
“We are a proven world leader in food chain assurance, but we cannot rest on our laurels,” said Mr Moseley. “At a time of ever-increasing scrutiny, preserving the public’s trust in UK agriculture and the Red Tractor logo has never been more important.”
Planned changes cover the scheme’s six sectors: beef and lamb, poultry, pigs, dairy, fresh produce, and combinable crops and sugar beet. They have been developed over 12 months with involvement from farmers, vets, processors and retailers (see panel).
The proposals are primarily about streamlining, legislative compliance and responding to change. They include simplifying some requirements for farmers around compliance – as well as rationalising standards which are common across multiple sectors.
“These proposals strive to strike a delicate balance which protects and promotes our members, reassures consumers and customers, while acknowledges the implications of the challenges that the industry faces with future trade deals and the agricultural transition plan.”
Mr Moseley said Red Tractor had listened to British consumers and recommendations made in a 2019 review of the scheme. It had found limitations in current standards around animal and worker welfare and environmental protection.
Red Tractor was the most trusted food marque in the UK, added Mr Moseley. “Farmers have been an intrinsic part of the process in drawing up the proposed new standards, but now it is over to the membership and stakeholders to have their say.”
NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said: “The NFU is calling for all farmer and grower members to contribute to the Red Tractor standards consultation to ensure they have their say. It’s vital that farmers voice their opinion and continue to influence the continuing standard of assurance.”
He added: “Now more than ever, we need to ensure that our standards on food, whether for animal welfare, food safety or environmental protection, meet the needs of both farmers and the public.”
The consultation and review closes on 5 March 2021. For full details, visit: bit.ly/RedTractor2021