Comment: Red Tractor should stick to its remit

By Aimee Mahony, NFU chief poultry advisor

Consultation, consultation, consultation. They have been one of the key themes for the poultry team over the past few months, with several incredibly important topics being consulted on. Last month, it was animal welfare in transport and a review of V8 of the Lion Code and this month we have turned our attention to the Red Tractor standards review consultation.

For many of our members producing poultry meat, Red Tractor accreditation is absolutely essential to access the market. The assurance scheme has been a real success since its inception and I know that members feel proud to be part of the scheme.

However, the proposed new standards have caused concern for many. For example, the inclusion of several new standards that replicate existing legal requirements and completely new sections exploring environmental protection and worker welfare. Member feedback has overwhelmingly shown that, while there’s no denying worker welfare and health and safety are important areas, these are deemed outside of Red Tractor’s remit.

Our view is that the scheme should be focusing and building on its original purpose; providing safe and traceable food to the public. I hope that Red Tractor seriously considers the feedback from the NFU and our members and considers this when developing the new standards, otherwise we could see fragmentation in the market or the development of alternative standards.

I’d like to end this month by sharing news of our Poultry Research Seminars which this year, of course, will be held virtually but will still offer the same insight from academics and farmers. The aim of these seminars is to ensure academics and researchers can connect with farmers to understand how they can ensure their research and recommendations are practical to implement on farm.

Covering both poultry meat and eggs, the seminars will be looking at what happens next for poultry diets, the future for bird welfare and innovations on farm. They’ve proven very popular over the years and I would encourage members to attend if they can. It’s crucial we engage with the organisations that are conducting research and contribute where possible to ensure they take into account the practical needs of poultry production. To register, please visit the poultry pages on www.nfuonline.com.

 

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