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Red Tractor works to reassure the British public that they can be confident that farmers are producing great food, which is traceable, safe and farmed with care. This is increasingly challenging, as we face external scrutiny by the media, activists, and consumers, and increasingly important as we increase the awareness of Red Tractor through TV and social media.
Our risk-based approach to assessments in the Pig, Dairy and Poultry sectors helps us deliver on this promise. Members in these sectors who are found to have poor compliance with the Red Tractor standards may see an increase in assessment frequency, with some visits being carried out with no advance notice.
If we continue to find evidence of non-compliance their certificate may be suspended, or their membership of the Scheme may be revoked. This approach aims to ensure that the reputation of members who are conforming to our standards is maintained.
Most Red Tractor farmers do an excellent job in adhering to every standard every day.
However, as part of its strategy to increase consumer confidence that food carrying the logo is safe, traceable, and farmed with care Red Tractor deploys a tough assessment regime on poorer performing dairy, pig, and poultry farms.
Depending on the nature and number of non-conformances found during a routine assessment, poor performers will receive an increase in inspection frequency, which will be unannounced. If improvements are not made, these poor performers will be suspended or their membership revoked to protect the reputation of British farming and the Red Tractor logo.
Our risk-based approach to assessments adopts a fair and objective method of identifying high-risk members. This is an internal system which uses the nature and number of non-conformances to categorise each member according to reputational risk.
All standards have been weighted according to reputational risk, for example the standard requiring livestock to be handled in a way that avoids injury and minimises stress has been given greater weighting than having a farm map. Notwithstanding this, all standards are important and must be always complied with.
For most members, a routine assessment will take place and reported back to Red Tractor by the certification body. If after the result of this assessment a member is classified by Red Tractor as higher risk, the requirement for an additional unannounced assessment will be triggered and the member will be notified by their certification body.
This unannounced assessment will be a spot check and no notice will be given to the farm. To avoid logistical and practical issues, members who require an unannounced visit will be asked to provide information to reduce the chance of no-one being available to carry out the assessment.
If improvement is demonstrated at the spot check the member will no longer be categorised as higher risk and will be informed by their certification body. They will then continue with the normal inspection frequency, albeit possibly at shorter notice.
If no improvement has been made, membership will be suspended. When a member is suspended, no products from the farm can be marketed as assured.
A member who has been suspended and has been re-instated back into the scheme after successfully correcting all non-conformances will be subject to a further unannounced assessment. If there is no improvement after this visit membership will be revoked.
Red Tractor is working towards 100% compliance from every member on every standard every day. It is vital that consumers have complete trust in the assurance scheme if they are to continue to buy food and drink bearing the logo.