Having last month called for a full review of Red Tractor and its governance, the National Sheep Association (NSA) has welcome the news of the assurance scheme’s U turn regarding the launch of its Greener Farms’ Commitment (GFC).
NSA had expressed its deep concern that plans for the detail of the GFC had failed to be discussed with those directly impacted and believed the Commitment was taking Red Tractor into the realm of setting environmental policy in isolation rather than getting behind the key environmental and sustainable farming schemes being introduced by Defra.
NSA said it was pleased to hear that following a meeting of Red Tractor’s Main (AFS) Board last week it was announced that no further progress will now be made on any new Red Tractor standards or additional modules such as the GFS until an independent first review can be completed by the National Farmers Union (NFU).
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “It is a positive step for Red Tractor to accept that all further developments must be put on hold until the independent review is completed. Questions still remain whether Red Tractor appreciates its approach is contributing to hostility and falling membership across livestock sectors.”
NSA said it now looks forward enthusiastically to any contribution it can make to an independent review.
Mr Stocker continued: “NSA has been consistent in the view that Red Tractor needs to change if we want sheep farmers to join from choice rather than be forced in order to access one particular supply chain.
“Little consideration has been given to the fact the sheep sector is different to most others – it’s reliance on supermarkets is less with many thousands of small operators who don’t have the same resources and infrastructure as the more industrial sectors. Assurance requirements have to be proportionate and the past move to ‘harmonise’ standards has simply alienated much of the sheep sector.”