“Errors have been made”, says Red Tractor on GFC

“Errors have been made”, says Red Tractor on GFC

UK farm assurance scheme Red Tractor has announced that it has dropped its Greener Farms Commitment (GFC) after receiving feedback from farmers.

Christine Tacon, Red Tractor chair.

The Assured Food Standards (AFS) Board of Red Tractor agreed to discontinue the module as “while the module had been conceived with the best of intentions, errors had been made”.

The GFC had previously been developed as a voluntary addition to enable farmers to track their progress across environmentally focused farming. However, the implementation of the GFC had already been delayed following criticism from farmers, who expressed concern that details of the module had not been discussed with those directly impacted.

In a joint response to the news, the four UK farming unions – National Farmers’ Union (NFU), NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) – together with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) said: “We welcome today’s news that Red Tractor has listened to feedback from its members and has axed the proposed Greener Farms Commitment.

“It’s also pleasing to see a commitment from Red Tractor has that it will only consider future environmental standards with sector consensus and full consultation. This is essential in building trust with farmers from across Britain, something we are pleased that Red Tractor has said is a priority and is already acting upon.

“We welcome Red Tractor’s desire for a more transparent, open and effective relationship with farmers in future.”

Responding to the announcement, Tony Goodger, spokesperson for the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), said that feedback from farmers had highlighted “the need to engage with the producer and processor end of the supply chain where they derive their income from”. Goodger expressed that he hoped industry could “move forward” following the scrapping of the GFC.

Christine Tacon, chair of Red Tractor, said that while the module had been conceived with the best of intentions, “errors had been made”.

She said: “We take responsibility for those issues and are sorry. We hope that by dropping the module, we can close the door on this chapter and move forward.

“We will only be involved in future environmental standards when all constituencies across the UK food and farming chain, by sector, ask us to and with full consultation.”

Review finds Red Tractor governance was “sound”

The Campbell Tickell review of Red Tractor’s governance concluded, with the AFS Board stating that it “accepts the conclusions”.

The review, which was commissioned by the NFU, found that Red Tractor governance was “sound”, with Campbell Tickell finding “no procedural breach”.

Tacon said: “The review sends a clear message about the level of frustration farmers feel and we need to listen carefully to their views. We will also continue to increase our efforts and investment in communicating Red Tractor’s purpose and benefits to farmer members.

“We now have an essential opportunity to reflect and refresh the way Red Tractor delivers its role for all stakeholders across the entire food chain. Over the coming weeks, Red Tractor’s AFS Board will consider the review in full before agreeing next steps and how these will be implemented.”

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