The National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) have announced the next steps for a jointly run, independent review of farm-to-fork assurance.
The review will seek to capture views from across the industry and will examine:
- 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, sector diversity and in appreciation of the global marketplace.
- How assurance members are engaged with (including the development of standards), inspected and how technology is used in assurance now and in future.
- How assurance schemes can and should fit with regulation and government schemes to best serve members.
Red Tractor will be considered as part of the process as it remains the dominant assurance scheme in many sectors, however, both the NFU and AHDB state that it will only be part of the review, which will focus on all areas of farm assurance.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “The world is very different to the way it was when farm assurance schemes started in the UK some 25 years ago, not least thanks to huge changes in the way food is produced, coupled with increased interest from consumers about where their food comes from.
“It’s time for change. Farmers and growers don’t feel that many schemes currently work for them. This review will see us go back to basics to look at the future of assurance and I would encourage the entire industry to positively engage with it.
“Food safety, branding, provenance, differing sector needs and sustainability are just some areas that farm assurance is trying to address. It is right to ask how these areas can be delivered without giving away value from the farm gate.”
AHDB chair Nicholas Saphir said: “We are consistent in stating that it is vital that the reputation of levy payers’ produce is maintained by assurance and where relevant, audits, to underpin the work we do on behalf of the industry in regard to promotion in the home and export markets.
“This independent evidence based review will allow us all to understand and address the future needs and opportunities that assurance has to play for the successful future of our industry.”