NFU says fresh approach to farming standards required
As part of its response to Red Tractor’s consultation process on farming standards, the National Farmers Union (NFU) has called for a fresh approach from the assurance body.
The NFU has highlighted how in some sectors it believes an imbalance exists between the production standards expected of UK farmers, compared with those required of foreign imports.
It also commented on how Red Tractor standards should look across the six farming sectors, as well as setting out key principles to guide the standards body to improve its offer to scheme members.
NFU deputy president, Stuart Roberts, said: “Red Tractor’s standards are the bedrock of UK agriculture and have helped establish our food and farming industry as the benchmark for quality across the world. There is strong support for Red Tractor’s original purpose of assuring the public that food is safe, produced with care to high standards of environmental protection and animal welfare and is fully traceable back to UK farms.
“It must show it is listening and provide confidence to farmers and growers that new standards are outcome focused, not just a tick box exercise.”
“Continued support for the Red Tractor assurance scheme will be crucial not just at home but, as new trade deals are developed, it will also help to bolster ‘Brand Britain’ as we take British food to new, global markets.
“However, as Red Tractor standards continue to evolve, some of the proposed changes in this consultation have provoked strong feelings within our membership¹, particularly concerning how the proposed changes demonstrate value back to the farm gate. There is a real risk that farmers and growers will not see deliverable benefits from the Red Tractor scheme without properly addressing these concerns.
“Now more than ever, we need to ensure that all our standards on British food, whether for animal welfare, food safety or environmental protection, meet the needs of both farmers and the public.
“We would like to see Red Tractor aspiring to be a progressive, cost effective and flexible assurance scheme which continues to be a vital part of the UK food supply chain. It must show it is listening and provide confidence to farmers and growers that new standards are outcome focused, not just a tick box exercise.”