Red Tractor puts new standards and additional modules on hold

A farming landscape with sheep in the background

Red Tractor has confirmed its complete support for the creation of two critical reviews, after NFU Council questioned whether it provides value for producers at its meeting on 23 October.

Following the announcement an NFU spokesperson said: “This is welcome news – it’s what NFU members and NFU Council have asked for.

“The hard work to get these reviews underway has already begun. Our immediate focus is getting the first review up and running, with the second review into UK food assurance to follow.”

Read the Red Tractor update.

Red Tractor will not progress with the implementation of any new standards or additional modules until the first NFU independent review, focusing on Red Tractor governance, is completed.

The second review will look more widely at farm assurance and will be aimed at revolutionising farm to fork assurance.

NFU Council called for an independent review and last week agreed that the ambition should be for work to be completed in time for its next meeting in January.

NFU Officeholders and Council members came together to agree that this work on Red Tractor didn’t go far enough to deal with wider and deeper issues around assurance, and would not be able to identify the opportunities and changes that are needed.

For the Red Tractor governance review the NFU Food, Farming and Environment Board decided today that the terms of reference and scope would be to:

  • Establish Red Tractor’s decision-making procedures and their transparency.
  • Examine who is consulted by Red Tractor in its development of standards, and when.
  • Look at the balance of this feedback and how Red Tractor engages with farmers.
  • Examine the effectiveness of these processes and identify the obstacles which need addressing.
  • Speak to those involved across the Red Tractor process in determining all these things.

Revolutionising Farm to Fork Assurance

The second larger review, proposed by President Minette Batters and supported by her officeholder team, will look at repurposing assurance in a post-Brexit world. The review will examine whether producers get fair value from assurance schemes, look at the relevance of assurance to different sectors and whether the “one size fits all” model is fair and correct while also examining the impact on farmers’ and growers’ mental health.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “I’m very happy indeed that, after what’s been a difficult few days for all of us, the review into Red Tractor governance can now begin and we can start to build this second, far bigger, review in to assurance as a whole. 

I’m very happy indeed that, after what’s been a difficult few days for all of us, the review in to Red Tractor governance can now begin and we can start to build this second, far bigger, review into assurance as a whole.”

NFU President Minette Batters

“It’s time for that to happen, so we can look at what works and what doesn’t, and to make sure assurance is fit for purpose in the years ahead.

“It’s critical that this involves a wide consultation with NFU members through their boards, both regional and sector, and also that it is a collaborative review, undertaken across all the farming organisations.”

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