The four UK farming unions, together with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), have welcomed Red Tractor’s decision to drop its Greener Farms Commitment (GFC) module.

On Friday (March 22), Red Tractor announced that it was dropping its GFC module following “feedback from its members”.

The module had faced criticism from the farming unions, with the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFUS) stating that it would need a “complete rethink” to work for the farming community.

The NFU, NFU Cymru, NFUS and the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), with AHDB, said they were glad that Red Tractor listened to feedback from its members.

“It’s also pleasing to see a commitment from Red Tractor that it will only consider future environmental standards with sector consensus and full consultation,” they said.

“This is essential in rebuilding trust with farmers from across Britain, something we are pleased that Red Tractor has said is a priority and is already acting upon.

“We welcome Red Tractor’s desire for a more transparent, open and effective relationship with farmers in future.”

GFC module

Red Tractor said the GFC module was originally developed to help farmers, processors and retailers meet the growing need for all to demonstrate sustainability, but in “a single, practical and consistent way”. 

However, the AFS board of Red Tractor said it will discontinue the module due to concerns surrounding its impact on farmers across the UK.

Chair of Red Tractor, Christine Tacon, said that, while the module had been conceived with the best of intentions, errors have been made.

“We take responsibility for those issues and are sorry. We hope that by dropping the module, we can close the door on this chapter and move forward,” she said.

“We will only be involved in future environmental standards when all constituencies across the UK food and farming chain, by sector, ask us to and with full consultation.”

Red Tractor’s AFS board also said it accepts the conclusions of the Campbell Tickell review of Red Tractor’s governance.

The board confirmed its commitment to implement all the recommendations.

The review, commissioned by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and conducted by Campbell Tickell, was published last month.

Some of the review’s recommendations to Red Tractor included:

  • Create and publish of a governance handbook;
  • Introduce of a formal process of appraisal for Red Tractor board and committee members;
  • Develop and adopt of a board member code of conduct;
  • Address stakeholder engagement and relations as a priority.