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Red Tractor beef lifetime assurance plans 'difficult to deliver' - NFU

NFU says proposals have been divisive among members in its response to RTA consultation
The consultation on lifetime assurance for beef has proved divisive
The consultation on lifetime assurance for beef has proved divisive

The NFU livestock board has concluded it would be difficult to move to lifetime assurance in the manner proposed by Red Tractor Assurance, given the divisive nature of the issue among farmers.

 

NFU livestock chairman Charles Sercombe said the union still aspired to deliver lifetime assurance for beef in the long-term but echoed members’ criticism of RTA’s approach to implementing the change.

 

RTA’s consultation on moving to lifetime assurance, from the current 90-day residency rule, closed last week.

 

Mr Sercombe said the NFU had ‘consulted as widely as possible with our members’ and its response to the RTA consultation reflected the ‘divisive’ nature of the proposal among them.

 

He said: “At our last meeting, the board came to the conclusion that the divergence of opinions in industry means that it would be difficult to deliver the move to lifetime assurance under the proposed models”.

 

“There has been criticism of the consultation from both sides during the last three months, but I can categorically state the NFU has consulted as widely as possible with our members, and have put together a comprehensive document.

 

“Every concern that was raised, from both sides of the debate, has been included as part of our response and is there for our members to read.”

 

He said the livestock board had also suggested ‘potential solutions to deliver our long-term goal which is to deliver lifetime assurance for beef’.

 

The RTA’s proposal has divided opinion from the start, with some beef farmers, particularly in the South West vehemently and vociferously opposed.

 

Others, with support apparently firmer in the north, have come out strongly in favour with some calling for the change to be made sooner rather than later.

 

The National Beef Association (NBA) published a survey of its members last week, which it said showed there was no need for lifetime assurance.

 

Of more than 500 NBA members who responded, 72 per cent were opposed to Lifetime Assurance with only 23 per cent in favour. Nearly three-quarters of respondents were ’predominately already farm assured’.


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Lifetime Assurance - what RTA proposed

  • The RTA consultation proposed the gradual introduction of Lifetime Assurance culminating, in beef animals only being sold as assured if they have spent their entire life on farms signed up to RTA schemes.
  • The move would require bringing thousands of currently non-assured store and suckler beef farms into the fold.
  • The first phase would be a Cattle Rearing Register starting later this year, possibly September, requiring farmers to complete a self-assessment application form. This registration would last for two years.
  • After two years this would be replaced by a Cattle Rearing Scheme for breeding and rearing farms that do not sell stock direct to slaughter.
  • Farmers would be required to meet standards and would register and pay a fee. Inspections would be risk-based meaning low risk
  • Members might only be inspected and have to renew every three years, compared with annually for ‘full assurance’.
  • CRR and CRS farmers would not be farm assured and could not sell animals as assured. They would only apply to movements prior to the last 90 days of an animal’s life.
  • The consultation also sought views on whether finishers would only be able to buy stock from CRR and CRS farms or whether the system could work on the basis of individual animals.
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