UK – In response to concerns raised by farmers across the UK, the Red Tractor food assurance scheme, a key player in the country’s food industry, has postponed the introduction of new standards and additional modules.

This decision is in anticipation of the National Farmers’ Union’s (NFU) ongoing governance review.

Amidst challenges faced by the UK agriculture sector, the Red Tractor scheme acknowledged the frustrations of farmers across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Farmers’ concerns, which extend beyond the proposed environment module, have prompted Red Tractor to reevaluate its approach to assurance standards and their role within the supply chain.

Christine Tacon, Chair of Red Tractor, emphasized the importance of actively listening to farmers’ concerns and addressing broader issues within the agricultural sector.

“As the team have been working with our Technical Advisory Committees and Sector Boards on the detail of the Greener Farms Commitment (GFC), the strength of feeling from farmers across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has become clear to everyone,” said Tacon.

Recognizing the depth of farmers’ frustrations, Red Tractor has decided to prioritize the NFU’s independent review of its governance.

As a result, no decisions regarding the implementation or timing of the proposed Greener Farms Commitment (GFC) or other changes to existing Red Tractor Standards will be made until the NFU review concludes.

Red Tractor intends to engage in ongoing conversations with its Technical Advisory Committees, Sector Boards, the new Development Advisory Panel, and other stakeholders.

These discussions will focus on demonstrating progress in environmentally focused farming within each sector. The scheme aims to facilitate a productive dialogue about the benefits of farm assurance and reaffirm consumer trust in the Red Tractor logo.

“We hope this approach will help the NFU to achieve its goal of completing the first review by the end of January 2024. In the meantime, we will continue to work to the Standards already in place and support consumer trust in the Red Tractor logo,” concluded Tacon.

Founded in 2000, Red Tractor is a world-leading food chain assurance scheme that underpins the high standards of British food & drink.

Assured Food Standards (AFS), the organisation which manages and promotes the Red Tractor food chain assurance scheme had considered the GFC module at its board meeting on 29 September.

Following detailed discussions, the board agreed to make the GFC module available across all sectors from 1 April 2024.

It agreed to the establishment of a development advisory panel (DAP), which will advise on the immediate and future technical development of the GFC.

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