Red Tractor Assurance has opened an industry-wide consultation on changes to its farm standards which will be implemented in October 2017.
Carried out every three years, the process sets out revisions to the scheme against which Red Tractor assured farms are assessed.
This is to ensure that the scheme reflects the emerging issues on consumers’ minds as well as addressing changes in legislation.
The recommendations in the consultation look to the future of food production across the globe and aim to put assured farms on the front foot to meet domestic demand and to fulfil export opportunities.
With the UK farming industry being asked to play its part in reducing antibiotic use, Red Tractor is proposing to make updates to its own scheme in line with best practice advice from RUMA, the alliance for Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture.
In the fresh produce sector, standards have been significantly upgraded to minimise the risk of product contamination. This ensures that assured fruit, vegetable and salad standards keep ahead of food safety matters at a time when imported products have been identified as the lead cause of microbiological food safety risks.
The continued importance of biosecurity has also been recognised and improvements have been recommended to strengthen protocols on all assured livestock farms.
Simple environmental protection measures are also being added to some livestock standards.
Assured Food Standards chief executive, David Clarke, said: “The Red Tractor logo is recognised by consumers as a guarantee that the food they are buying is safe, traceable and produced to good standards of animal welfare with minimal impact on the environment.
“That reputation is built upon the standards which have been maintained by our scheme members for more than 15 years.
“The UK farming industry is immensely proud of the standards it adheres to and we want to work together to ensure that we have a modern, progressive scheme that is something to shout about across the world.
“The needs of UK farming’s customers continually evolve and it’s vital that we do the same to stay ahead of the game.
“The proposals provide positive re-assurance on some topical issues and address new issues that have emerged in the minds of shoppers who buy our products.”
Red Tractor standards are reviewed every three years by Technical Advisory Committees (TACs) which are made up of industry experts including farmers, trade associations, vets, processors and retailers and represent the entire supply chain.
The consultation is open until the end of the year before feedback is reviewed by the TACs. A decision is then taken upon the standards to come into effect next autumn.
Responses are being invited through farming organisations. Further information can be found at http://assurance.redtractor.org.uk/media/news/consultation