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Red Tractor Urged to Abandon Greener Farms Scheme for Farmer-Friendly Approach

The UK farming unions and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) have strongly advised Red Tractor to abandon its contentious Greener Farms Commitment (GFC) scheme, advocating instead for a more open strategy that better serves farmers.

The recommendation comes in the wake of an independent review into Red Tractor's governance conducted by Campbell Tickell. The entities, which are part of Red Tractor's ownership structure, have expressed their firm belief that the GFC initiative should be halted.

They argue that the decision on how and when to proceed with work on sustainability standards should rest with the Assured Farm Standards (AFS) Board, emphasizing that any future developments must clearly and openly accommodate all groups within the food and farming supply chain. This includes taking into account the unique aspects of UK agriculture and horticulture, especially in sectors where there is a distinct demand.

Despite their critique of the GFC, the groups have reiterated their support for the foundational goals that define Red Tractor's role. They maintain that Red Tractor should continue to be the preferred standard for UK producers and retailers but stress the importance of swiftly implementing the governance recommendations from the Campbell Tickell report to start rebuilding trust with the farming community.

Nicholas Saphir, Chair of AHDB, highlighted the need for an open discussion and a pause to reconsider the broader role of assurance bodies. He acknowledged Red Tractor's significant achievements over the past two decades in promoting British provenance among consumers but noted that the GFC had brought to light longstanding issues, including a communication gap between Red Tractor and its members. Saphir emphasised the importance of engaging farmers in sustainability efforts, ensuring that any changes are meaningful, adopted, and demonstrate value.

In response to the governance review, a Red Tractor spokesperson stated that the board is thoroughly examining the report's findings, with the GFC currently on hold. The review is seen as a crucial opportunity for Red Tractor to reflect on and improve how it serves all stakeholders, acknowledging the frustrations expressed by farmers in the current operational climate.

The spokesperson assured that farmers' concerns would be carefully considered in any future decisions.


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