A new independent international benchmarking study of global farm assurance schemes that has found Red Tractor to have world-leading standards.
The study looked at prominent global schemes – some of which compete with the UK – and the results show the breadth and depth of Red Tractor to be second-to-none, especially in areas such as traceability and food safety.
The findings strengthen Red Tractor’s position as the scheme which can act as the flagship for quality British food both at home and abroad.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “We are pleased that the findings of this study reaffirm the importance and relevance of the Red Tractor scheme and its standards. The Red Tractor logo on British food and drink means the products meet comprehensive world leading levels of animal welfare, food safety and environmental standards. It’s safe, traceable and farmed with care – an easy signpost to shoppers looking for products they can trust.
“Red Tractor continues to be a vital part of the UK food supply chain and can be found on millions of food and drink items in supermarkets and restaurants across the country - £13bn of British products carry the Red Tractor logo making it the largest British food identifier.
“With Brexit now just days away, the Government must commit to ensuring that any future new trade agreements will not undermine British food standards. We must have a commitment that after Brexit the food Britain imports will be produced to the same standards which is legally required of British farmers.”
The study looked at a comparison of the following schemes across the globe:
Some of the top-line findings include:
- Red Tractor was found to be consistently world-leading in traceability and food safety.
- In food safety Red Tractor performs well against all other schemes. Especially noted is the provision of specific and detailed standards.
- Red Tractor performed very well in terms of staff training standards. However, Worker Welfare or the Ethical Treatment of agricultural workers is not well covered by nearly all farm assurance schemes across the globe and provision of significant development is required across all schemes including Red Tractor.
- In Beef & Lamb, Red Tractor was found to be the strongest overall scheme in terms of breadth and depth. Red Tractor husbandry standards are above all broad coverage schemes but behind the high welfare schemes.
- In Dairy, Red Tractor is again the strongest overall scheme in terms of breadth and depth including traceability, biosecurity, record keeping and milk production standards (for example, hygiene of the milking parlour and handling of milk are all very good).
- In Produce, Red Tractor & GLOBALG.A.P are the strongest overall schemes by a considerable margin. In Crops, Red Tractor has particular strengths in areas such as crop storage and water management. Opportunities to develop the standards in areas such as soil management and control of manure and fertilisers were noted.
- In Pigs, Red Tractor was found to be strong in antibiotic usage monitoring, however there are opportunities for Red Tractor to develop its welfare standards in areas that have been identified, for example, space and enrichment.
- In broiler chickens new enrichment standards are very robust and almost in line with the RSPCA (bales, perches and pecking objects).
- The Red Tractor Chicken Scheme is world-leading in terms of its whole assurance chain i.e. assured breeder farms, hatcheries, broiler farms, catching, transport and processing. Areas to consider for future standards development include: stocking density, lighting and genetics (slow growing breeds).
Red Tractor CEO, Jim Moseley said: “Our standards are world-class as is evidenced by this research and increases our determination to be the flagship of British food and farming.
"Our vision and the work we are already implementing to develop standards in certain areas will place Red Tractor firmly at the centre of UK agriculture worldwide. However, our focus remains working hard to ensure that every standard is in place on every farm, every day.”
The findings support Red Tractor’s planned development to cover specialist areas such as higher welfare, environmental enhancement and organic production.
Mr Moseley added: “While specialist schemes may have higher standards on specific single issues they do not offer the breadth across all aspects of farm production.
"Our ambition is to combine the current robust core of Red Tractor with additional standards on single issues to create a broader and stronger offer.”
:: The research was conducted over the past six months by independent Nuffield Scholar Dr Jonathan Birnie. Dr Birnie is a member of, or has contributed to several advisory groups including the Knowledge Transfer Network Advisory group; Future of Scottish Agriculture, Public Value Committee; Land Use Advisory Committee; Agri-Food Quest Project Approval Committee; Agrisearch Sheep Committee; and the AFBI Beef Advisory Group. www.birnieconsultancy.com