In Farmer's regular look at the work of Red Tractor, its CEO Ji Moseley urges farmers not forget how far British food and farming has come in the past 20 years.

IT'S been a tumultuous year, but we’ve learnt more about our country, our supply chains and ourselves than we might have thought possible. We are yet to fully understand the true extent of the health and economic ramifications of this global pandemic. With more than eight million people across the country struggling to get enough food on their tables this Christmas and the transition period with the European Union on the brink, there’s no more important time to reflect on how we can continue to safeguard farming standards and the availability of affordable British quality produce for all.

Many of our members who farm across the north west and beyond, have been producing great food for decades, adapting and reacting to the challenges and opportunities that come from working in an ever-changing environment. But increasingly, this feels like a watershed moment. Brexit could mean that our hard-earned reputation for producing high quality, responsibly produced, safe, trustworthy food will be tested like never before. Because of this, I believe that the role of Red Tractor to fly the flag for British farming quality and standards, will become more important than ever.

Created in the aftermath of BSE and salmonella disasters, which rocked the whole industry and decimated countless farming businesses, the scheme was created by farmers and the food industry 20 years ago, to help restore trust. And together, that is exactly what we’ve been able to do. Tens of millions of shoppers and diners now back British by looking for our logo when buying food and drink.

Today, Red Tractor independently checks and audits around three quarters of British agricultural produce, which represents around £15bn of food and drink. I say with complete confidence, that this assurance scheme and the food producers we represent across the beautiful Lake District, rolling moorland and the breathtaking north west coastline, have helped to establish British food and farming as the benchmark for quality across the world.

To maintain this position, to make sure that British produce is well placed to capitalise on the new trade opportunities which will come from Britain’s exit from the EU, and with the UK aiming to be Net Zero by 2050, the challenges facing producers are unprecedented.Having an accredited assurance scheme, that’s not only recognised by consumers and the food supply chain, but also understands how farmers operate, will be essential.

We have a scheme to be proud of. It’s trusted by consumers, provides access to markets for our members and is valued by some of Britain’s biggest food business and brands.