Red Tractor launches consultation to shape future standards

Red Tractor is urging farmers to engage in a consultation on how its farm standards should evolve.

A consultation on the assurance scheme opened today with proposals put forward on how the standards should look across the scheme’s six sectors.

For poultry, the assurance scheme is proposing that across all poultry species,  light intensity would be measured for each crop and recorded at bird-eye level to confirm that farms are meeting the standards. Lighting for ducks would be phased on and off over a 30-minute dawn-dusk period and there is a new recommendation for windows in all buildings which house ducks. It is proposed that only slower growing breeds can be used for free range chicken production to ensure that breeds are suitable for the method of production.

Red Tractor is seeking input from across the industry before finalising its proposition of what the schemes standards will be from November 2021.

The proposals have been developed over 12 months. Chief executive Jim Moseley said: “We are a proven world leader in food chain assurance, but we cannot rest on our laurels.

“Red Tractor is recognised as a symbol of British food quality but to maintain this, our standards must continue to evolve with the times, to ensure they address changes in legislation, industry practice and reflect the emerging issues on shoppers’ minds.

“At a time of ever-increasing scrutiny, preserving the public’s trust in UK agriculture and the Red Tractor logo has never been more important.

“These proposals strive to strike a delicate balance which protects and promotes our members, reassures consumers and customers, while acknowledges the implications of the challenges that the industry faces with future trade deals and the agricultural transition plan.”

Red Tractor said it had listened to British consumers and the recommendations made in a review of the scheme by Dr Jonathan Birnie in 2019, which identified limitations in the current standards around animal and worker welfare and environmental protection.

The full list of proposed changes, supplementary documents on why Red Tractor has reached these decisions and on how to respond to the consultation can be found on the Red Tractor review hub at https://assurance.redtractor.org.uk/. The full consultation can be accessed at https://redtractor.citizenspace.com .

A short video explaining why Red Tractor needs input from the industry has also been created https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ik3ZECCDyb8&feature=em-share_video_user

The consultation and review closes on 5 March 2021. The new standards will be implemented from November.

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