Red Tractor has announced that it will put new standards and additional modules on hold until an independent review of governance has been completed.
Two reviews will be conducted by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) after its council questioned whether Red Tractor provides value for producers at a meeting last week.
Work to get both reviews underway has already begun, the NFU said, the first of which will focus on Red Tractor governance, followed by a review of farm assurance more widely.
The NFU council agreed that the ambition should be for work to be completed in time for its next meeting in January 2024.
Welcoming the two independent reviews by the NFU, Red Tractor said it wants to make sure assurance is “fit for purpose” in the years ahead.
While working on the detail of the Greener Farms Commitment (GFC), the strength of feeling from farmers across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has become “clear”, the NFU said.
“It has been a difficult period across UK agriculture, which has brought forward frustration from farmers that runs deeper than just our proposals for an environment module.
“We recognise that and have decided that the NFU’s independent review of Red Tractor governance must come first,” Red Tractor chair Christine Tacon said.
Tacon said that any continuation of work on an environment module would need to include more detailed dialogue with farmers and supply chains, and consider relevant government policy.
“The discussion that has been provoked is essential and offers a great opportunity for the farming sectors and supply chains to work together,” she added.
The scope of the Red Tractor governance review, according to the NFU, will be as follows:
- Establish Red Tractor’s decision-making procedures and their transparency;
- Examine who is consulted by Red Tractor in its development of standards and when;
- Look at the balance of this feedback and how Red Tractor engages with farmers;
- Examine the effectiveness of these processes and identify the obstacles which need addressing;
- Speak to those involved across the Red Tractor process in determining all these things.
The review will also examine whether producers get fair value from assurance schemes, their relevance to different sectors, and the impact on farmers’ mental health.
While the reviews are being conducted, Red Tractor will continue to work to the standards already in place and support consumer trust in the Red Tractor logo, Tacon said.