An industrywide review of farm to fork assurance has been officially launched with the announcement of the independent commissioners panel which will oversee the review.

The independent review has been jointly commissioned by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) along with NFU Cymru, The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) and NFU Scotland (NFUS), who will all form part of the Assurance Review steering group, which has overall responsibility for its delivery.

The group is now in the process of appointing four commissioners who will be responsible for setting the terms of reference and a timeline to ensure the process provides clear outcomes to the industry.

Three of the four commissioners already appointed are:

  • Dr. David Llewellyn CBF (lead commissioner) – former vice chancellor of Harper Adams University;
  • James Withers – former chief executive officer (CEO) of Scotland Food and Drink;
  • Mark Suthern – chair of Trustees of the Farming Community Network (FCN).

A forth commissioner will be confirmed in due course.

Former vice chancellor, Dr. Llewellyn said:

“A well-structured farm-level assurance system should be efficient, effective and economically viable for farmers and the wider food production system, while also providing confidence to retailers, other food businesses and consumers, that UK produce is among the best in the world.

“The Commission’s work will include an exploration of best practice, consideration of how methods of assurance can provide value to primary producers in a fast-changing environment and a review of the relationship between assurance and regulation.”

Dr. Llewellyn added that he is “looking forward” to the review “getting under way, and to the Commission engaging with the industry to see how the assurance system can meet the future needs of food producers while underpinning our collective aim to continue the delivery of a high-quality UK food system.”

The industrywide Assurance Review is focused on repurposing assurance in a post-Brexit world. It aims to seek feedback from all farmers, crofters and growers about all farm assurance schemes with a view to revolutionising farm to fork assurance, making it truly fit for the future.

The review will examine the following:

  • How farm assurance can deliver value back to scheme members;
  • How standards are developed to meet the evolving needs of members, the markets they serve, and for sector diversity;
  • How assurance members are engaged with, inspected and how technology is used in assurance now and in the future;
  • How assurance schemes can and should fit with regulation and government schemes to best suit members.