Farmers and consumers across the UK have reacted angrily to news that Conservative Peer Lucy Neville-Rolfe, chair of Assured Food Standards - the company which owns Red Tractor farm assurance - voted in the House of Lords against amendments to the Agriculture Bill aimed at protecting UK farmers from imports produced to lower standards.
‘Red Tractor’ regularly tightens up rules for participating farmers, and recently opened a consultation on livestock market and collection centre standards stating “...standards must always be kept up to date...Keeping standards relevant is vital for preserving the public’s trust in the Red Tractor logo and in UK agriculture. It has never been more important that we demonstrate our commitment to meeting consumer expectations at a time of ever-increasing scrutiny.”
At a recent meeting of the FUW’s Presidential Policy Team (PPT), frustration was expressed over Red Tractor’s appetite for introducing additional rules that sometimes failed to take account of farming systems in areas such as Wales and the additional costs they cause for farmers, while the Red Tractor Chair’s vote against maintaining standards was branded as hypocritical.
Baroness Neville-Rolfe is set to stand down from the Red Tractor Board in November, but it was agreed by the PPT that a letter will be sent to the Board expressing the industry’s dismay over her actions and calling for all Board members to demonstrate genuine commitment to maintaining food standards.