The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has agreed to stop funding to Red Tractor as of this financial year.

According to the AHDB, Red Tractor is now “financially established and self-sustaining”, and thus no longer requires the board’s basic annual financial support.

However, future funding could be provided to the not-for-profit if specific projects are identified that would be of benefit to the levy payers.

“AHDB has informed Red Tractor that it would continue to consider providing funds for specific work or projects that are deemed to add demonstrable value to levy payers or help levy payers to reach agreed standards,” said board chair Nicholas Saphir.

It remains AHDB’s clear position that farm assurance is necessary and important to farming success, as a consumer benchmark (or ‘kite mark’) denoting safety, quality and provenance and/or in helping farmers achieve premium prices where food is produced to particular standards which customers and consumers attach additional value.

“The industry is about to experience a period of considerable change and it is AHDB’s absolute determination to ensure that we are spending levy payers’ money in ways that deliver value by supporting them in successfully and profitably facing the future.”

Red Tractor

Red Tractor is the UK’s biggest farm and food assurance scheme. Its symbol denotes that a product has been farmed, processed and packed in the UK.

It was founded in 2000 and, following an industry consultation in 2008, has received funding from the AHDB.

A spokesperson for Red Tractor said it was “disappointed to learn of the AHDB board’s decision to no longer provide annual funding”.

“Regrettably, the AHDB’s funding decision means we will now need to reconsider our advertising plans, which we understand will come as a disappointment to farmers and the wider food supply chain,” the spokesperson added.

The AHDB said despite no longer providing funding, it will continue to provide assistance to Red Tractor, for the benefit of its levy payers.

“AHDB will continue to ask the tough questions and use its independence and evidence-based approach to facilitate the finding of solutions between Red Tractor and it’s stakeholders,” Saphir added.

For example, AHDB has been raising questions and encouraging parties to come together over the current levy payer concern around grain imports and whether the controls in place for imported grain provide the same levels of assurance and clarity as those of Red Tractor for English product.

“Work on this issue is continuing and it remains a very high priority for some of our cereals levy payers.

“We have written to Red Tractor, following feedback from levy payers on our sector councils who raised a number of points which match views being expressed from some of the wider industry.”

The Red Tractor spokesperson continued this sentiment.

“We [Red Tractor] will continue to work together with AHDB on many levels,” it said.