Red Tractor revises farm standards to equip British agriculture for the future

Red Tractor, the UK’s largest food assurance scheme, has shared how it has listened to feedback and outlined that revised farm standards will be in place 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.

The industry spoke and we listened

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.”

Andrew Opie, British Retail Consortium chief executive, said: “Customers trust us to make sure the food that gets to their plate has been produced to the high standards they expect. This fifth standards review has given us another opportunity to listen widely to everyone's viewpoint. It is important the standards don’t stand still, and we look forward to more progress on climate change and ethical labour over the next few years."