Union urges Red Tractor to ensure changes are ‘properly communicated’
The significant changes to Red Tractor assurance scheme standards announced this week need to be properly communicated to farmers, NFU Scotland has warned.
It follows a comprehensive consultation with the industry at the start of the year.
Over the next few weeks, Red Tractor will be engaging directly with members on more detailed information around the standards across each sector.
‘Improving the integrity of the Red Tractor scheme’
NFU Scotland vice-president Andrew Connon said: “NFU Scotland representatives worked extremely hard with Red Tractor to ensure that the development of these standards considered the views of our members that we gathered at the start of the new year.
“We recognise that robust farm assurance schemes are vital to the sector’s future. The expectations for UK farming standards on food safety, animal welfare, environment and the provenance of foods are rising amongst consumers, and it is important that all sectors protect their investment.
“Like other stakeholders feeding into the consultation, we had huge concerns that many of the new standards created a requirement for records and bureaucracy rather than looking at outcomes or delivery of the principles and we challenged these robustly when we submitted our response.
We also voiced concern that scheme does not always distinguish between sector standards and legal requirements. The duplication of legal minimums is unnecessary and has the potential to cause confusion or accidental non-compliance with regulation. It is encouraging to see this has been considered by Red Tractor.
“It is important at this time we also stress to Red Tractor that issues around audit implementation, farm assessor consistency, and compassion towards farmer wellbeing are held equally as important as the new standards coming our way.
“There needs to be an emphasis on this going forward to ensure the integrity of the scheme and strengthen the relationship between Red Tractor and the primary producer.”
‘Without Red Tractor farmers will find it difficult to find a milk buyer’
Commenting specifically on dairy standards, the NFU Scotland’s Milk Committee chairman Gary Mitchell said: “Red Tractor is the UK’s largest food standards scheme, covering animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection and its role in the dairy supply chain is key from a primary producer of view.
“The current supply chain dictates that without Red Tractor approval a primary producer will find it extremely difficult to have a buyer for their milk and so understanding these new standards are vital.
Consulted on last year, with implementation in November 2021, is the important new standard where you must have a written breeding and management policy in place and implemented so there is no routine euthanasia of calves on-farm.
“This standard is in line with the direction that many milk buyers have already taken and encompasses the industry’s established commitment to eliminate the routine euthanasia of calves by 2023.”
More information on the dairy scheme standards can be found here.