Red Tractor, the UK’s largest and most comprehensive food assurance scheme, has announced changes in its revised farm standards from November.
This year for the first time in its history, Red Tractor opened the process to its 46,000 members and the entire food supply chain, making it the biggest and most transparent consultation ever.
The proposals sought to engage as many people as possible across the Red Tractor supply chain to streamline standards, comply with legislation, meet changes in consumer demand, and provide clarity for both farmers and their assessors.
The consultation followed a rigorous three-staged process adhering to the gold standard recommendations of the British Standards Institute – committee, consultation and consensus. Over 3,000 pieces of feedback were fed into the technical advisory committees and sectors boards for consensus, before being agreed by the main Red Tractor board. This differentiated our approach and saw certain proposals dropped, while others were simplified and clarified.
Some new standards have been added because of legislation change, such as an amendment to vermin control standards to comply with food safety law, or industry commitments to improving animal welfare, including the wider dairy sector’s pledge to eliminate the routine euthanasia of calves by 2023.
Red Tractor’s CEO Jim Moseley said: “We set out to hear from all stakeholders and to engage as much of the farming community as possible, and I’m delighted by the amount of feedback that was generated by the review. This has been enormously helpful for informing the work to finalise the new version of the standards.
“Our standards need to achieve two key objectives – first to meet the needs of consumers who expect high standards but shop keenly on price, and second to provide farmers and the supply chain with manageable standards. Getting that balance right then also satisfies the needs of food businesses and government. “With its structures of sector boards and technical committees, and through the comprehensive feedback of the consultation, Red Tractor is in a fortunate position to achieve that crucial balance that benefits the UK food supply chain.”
Key changes in the fresh produce sector are:
- REVISED Strengthened and upgraded approach to field/production site risk assessment to better manage risks from historic and adjacent activities.
- NEW Protected Cropping section introduced with content relevant to established, protected growing environments (e.g. greenhouse) and new crop production systems (e.g. vertical farms).
- REVISED Strengthened and consistent expectations for pesticide residue testing.
- NEW Record keeping systems for introduction of biological controls.