Red Tractor will not progress with the implementation of any new standards or additional modules until the NFU independent review on Red Tractor governance is completed. You can find out more here.
Red Tractor Chair, Christine Tacon said: “There will be no decisions on the implementation or timing of the GFC or on other changes to existing Red Tractor Standards until that NFU review is complete. Any continuation of work on an environment module would need to include more detailed dialogue with farmers and supply chains and consider relevant government policy on agriculture for all UK nations.”
The Greener Farms Commitment was proposed as a voluntary addition to operate very differently from Red Tractor’s core standards. It would enable farmers to make commitments and track their own progress across five key areas for environmentally focused farming: Carbon foot printing; Soil management; Nutrient management; Waste management; and Biodiversity. It would recognise other schemes or programmes such as the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and other devolved government schemes. It would seek to reduce cost and complexity, and make it as easy as possible for farmers to complete.
Listen to Red Tractor CEO, Jim Moseley interviewed about the Greener Farms Commitment on BBC Farming Today:
At the request of the Main (AFS) Board, Red Tractor’s work on an environment module started more than two years ago. One of the purposes of assurance is to deliver maximum market access with the minimum audit requirements. This work recognises increasing market demand for environmental credentials, and the indications that multiple customers will make extra audit demands on farmers. With the full support of businesses represented by the British Retail Consortium, the environment module offers farmers, processors, and packers one set of common criteria which can serve to prevent this possibility.
AFS Board has 18 representatives from across the supply chain, including the NFU, AHDB, BMPA, and BRC for example.
The environment module is designed as a voluntary addition. It will not form part of Red Tractor’s core standards. It will be a framework for farmers to make commitments with plans and actions if their customers ask them to. It will NOT set standards that are measured in terms of compliance. Its specific aim is to offer a common industry approach which protects farmers from increasing and multiple audit demands.
The GFC is designed to be a very different experience for farmers who choose to take part. The GFC will be administered by Red Tractor directly, rather than by appointed Certification Bodies. Unlike core standards, the GFC does not require the same thing at every farm, but instead requires farmers to register a plan for progress that is unique to their circumstances, and then measure their success and learning against that.
The module enables farmers to make commitments and track their own progress across five key areas for environmentally focused farming: Carbon foot printing; Soil management; Nutrient management; Waste management; and Biodiversity. It will recognise other schemes or programmes such as the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and other devolved government schemes, reducing the cost and complexity, and making it as easy as possible for farmers to complete.
Not at all. It is designed to make this process easier by providing farmers, processors, and packers one set of common criteria and a consistent framework to talk about their environmental credentials.
Many farmers are already working really hard to make progress against the GFC’s five focus areas: Carbon foot printing; Soil management; Nutrient management; Waste management; and Biodiversity. In England and Wales, the GFC has been designed to align with DEFRA’s Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and we are constantly reviewing the other devolved administrative programmes to ensure the GFC continues to be consistent with the different funding options available to farmers.
Of course, specific financial benefits will depend on individual confidential contract negotiations with farmers. Red Tractor has provided retailers with evidence detailing anticipated initial costs and resources required, so it’s our expectation that farmers and their supply chain partners should ask for more. Red Tractor’s role is to limit costs and resource requirements, in the face of growing pressure.
No, Red Tractor recognises that farmers need to be in control of the commercial arrangements they want to make with their customers. The GFC is the common framework that allows farmers to demonstrate their environmental credentials whilst also having complete freedom to negotiate an appropriate financial reward from the market. Red Tractor does not stipulate or get involved in any commercial arrangements – that is for the market, farmers and the supply chain to agree.
The expectation for the food supply chain to demonstrate its environmental credentials continues to increase. LEAF marque has grown, particularly in the horticulture sector. Many dairy processors now require a carbon footprint. DEFRA continues to roll out its Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). Only last month, Sainsbury’s announced its new ‘Taste the Difference’ Aberdeen Angus range which will offer a 25% lower carbon footprint compared to industry standard.
The net effect of these increasing expectations is likely to be farmers having to do the similar things, many times, for many different customers or move to more expensive alternatives. Concerned about these increasing audit demands, Red Tractor has been developing an additional, voluntary module designed to meet the needs of the market with a single consistent industry approach whilst allowing farmers the opportunity to negotiate a return.
The GFC is a different lighter touch approach than LEAF – it covers 5 sections with a total of 14 requirements compared to 97 standards for LEAF which requires an annual audit. The annual GFC application cost for farmers initially will be £125+VAT per year and there will be no physical audit.
Not immediately. In the short term for UK agriculture it is more likely that this will be a slow and selective approach, with retailers trialling this over time and through their existing aligned farmer groups.
Quite the reverse. The module has five elements: three of these are already funded or part-funded by the SFI – farmers can be paid for Soil and Nutrient Management Plans and some of the biodiversity requirements by the SFI. Furthermore, if you have done these for SFI, then there is no need to do anything else for Red Tractor, so no duplication.
Nothing that farmers supply to Red Tractor to demonstrate they are meeting the GFC requirements will be shared with retailers or customers. Red Tractor has a very clear policy on data sharing – the farmer controls their own data and, as with current systems, nothing is shared without the farmers express permission which can be revoked at any time.