In our monthly look at the work of the Red Tractor logo, we meet a Yorkshire Dales hill farmer who have been members for 19 years...

RICHARD Pedley and his family are hill farmers with 1,000 sheep plus beef cattle on the border of Cumbria, Lancashire and North Yorkshire.

“I don’t think there’s been a time in my life when there has been so much scrutiny of the food we produce,” said Richard. “As a farmer that’s both a compliment and a concern.

“I’m extremely proud of the way we rear cattle and sheep on Oak Tree Farm at Barbon. As a family, we have been doing it for two generations here, with hopefully a third to follow,” he adds.

It is an upland farm and, like many of its type, unsuited to growing crops.

“We endeavour to breed the best lamb and beef cattle possible while caring for and working with the environment. Our stock shares the land with all the wildlife that inhabits the area, and it is because of this that biodiversity flourishes.”

A huge number of people recognise the work British farmers do to produce safe, affordable food while maintaining iconic landscapes, but Richard is concerned. “I’m worried that the increasing polarisation of the often biased debate about diets, land use and farming methods serves only to confuse the shoppers and diners we have worked hard to win over.

“Consumers who want to make a difference to climate change should look for the Red Tractor logo on their food packaging, be it British beef, chicken, pork, lamb or vegetables. This guarantees the food is the safest, most traceable product and is produced to the highest welfare standards in the world.”

A recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) outlined some important challenges over land use and carbon emissions. “When releasing the report, the IPCC said it wasn’t talking about giving up eating meat and acknowledged that there was “no silver bullet” to solving the issues we face. But ‘give up meat to save the planet’ was how it was reported. This is just one example. There are many others.”

Richard and his family have been members of Red Tractor since its inception 19 years ago. Farmers pay to be members and, in doing so, agree to comply with the standards Red Tractor sets. Inspectors visit every farm – several times a year in some cases – to ensure standards are being met.

“This means that farmers like me up and down the country work to standards that ensure animals are well looked after and the environment is protected,” said Richard.

“Earlier this year a global study found the breadth and depth of the Red Tractor scheme across these areas was second to none. But things change, and the scheme will have to evolve to keep pace with the latest developments in areas such as environmental management and animal welfare to ensure it remains relevant. So will we as members of the scheme.”