Carrying out its three-yearly review of farm assurance standards, Red Tractor has launched a consultation to ask farmers for their views on proposed changes.
There are proposed alterations to standards across all sectors, but they have been met with strong resistance in some quarters, with one farmer describing Red Tractor as a ‘mafia which seeks to exclude from the marketplace those who have not paid their protection money’.
Assured Food Standards chief executive David Clarke said: “The Red Tractor logo is recognised by consumers as a guarantee the food they are buying is safe, traceable and produced to good standards of animal welfare with minimal impact on the environment.
“The needs of UK farming’s customers continually evolve and it is vital we do the same to stay ahead of the game. The proposals provide positive reassurance on some topical issues and address new ones which have emerged in the minds of shoppers who buy our products.”
Some farmers, however, took to online forums to voice their anger at the consulation, with one claiming the proposals were ‘utterly disgusting’ and would add to farmer costs but provide no return.
Concerns were raised about the proposal to require animal feed to be bought from Red Tractor assured farms, with some farmers suggesting Red Tractor was trying to make everyone farm assured ‘by the back door’.
Farmers Guardian has been made aware of growing disquiet in the industry about the three-yearly reviews and their burdensome nature.
Phil Bicknell, head of food and farming at the NFU, said Red Tractor was important to many of the union’s members, but added: “As well as addressing future pressures on the scheme, it is essential the standards are also practical, relevant and provide value to scheme members.”
He urged people to respond to the consultation, which closes on December 31.
You can give your views HERE.