Red Tractor has announced it will pause development on its controversial Greener Farms Commitment environment module.
The assurance scheme will co-operate with the NFU, which is to carry out two separate reviews into how farm assurance schemes operate in England and Wales, and whether they provide value for producers.
An outcry greeted Red Tractor’s recent announcement it planned to launch a new environmental module from next April to give consumers assurances over how the environmental credentials of the food they buy.
One of the main problems sparked by the announcement was the apparent lack of consultation with farmers over the initiative. It was also seen to be designed to benefit retailers, but paid for by farmers.
Red Tractor Chair, Christine Tacon said: “As the team have been working with our Technical Advisory Committees and Sector Boards 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 to everyone.
“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.
“There will be no decisions on the implementation or timing of the GFC or on other changes to existing Red Tractor Standards until that NFU review is complete. 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 on agriculture for all UK nations.
“The views of our members are very important, and we are sorry that we have been slow to understand them fully. The discussion that has been provoked is essential and offers a great opportunity for the farming sectors and supply chains to work together.
“So, we expect these conversations to continue with our Technical Advisory Committees, Sector Boards, the new Development Advisory Panel and more widely. It is vital to talk more about the benefits of farm assurance overall, and the challenge of how to demonstrate progress on environmentally focused farming in each sector, for example.
“We hope this approach will help the NFU to achieve its goal of completing the first review by the end of January 2024. In the meantime, we will continue to work to the Standards already in place and support consumer trust in the Red Tractor logo.”