RED Tractor asserts that since its formation in June 2020, consumers have been reassured that food bearing its logo is safe and responsibly produced. However, research by the online retailer in 2019 found that over 60 percent of consumers were confused about what the Red Tractor signifies. Many of the standards which underpin the logo are not always those which consumers would see as important.

For a long time, the TFA has argued that Red Tractor should do more to measure the true value that is delivered by its standards, both to consumers and by extension to farmers. Too many of the current standards, and those which Red Tractor is now seeking to apply or enhance through its recent standards review, appear to have little, auditable value within supply chains.

There has been no analysis of the differential impact that complying with Red Tractor standards has in terms of the value chain in comparison to food products bought and sold without the benefit of a Red Tractor accreditation.

Too much is left to conjecture or subjective analysis. Just because the Red Tractor logo appears on a significant amount of food sold by value, does not necessarily mean that it is adding value to that produce for primary producers.

Sadly, retailers and processors have been using the Red Tractor accreditation to their own advantage rather than ensuring a fair return to farmers and growers.

Many farmers feel powerless in respect of the standards with which they are asked to comply and see them almost as a license to trade.

There is a concern that Red Tractor is taking on the responsibility of the State for ensuring compliance with legislation thus affording it unwarranted power and leverage with the industry.

Whilst Red Tractor is supposedly voluntary it is now virtually impossible for farmers to sell their produce into the supply chain without being Red Tractor assured.

The constant ratcheting up of standards leaves farmers drowning in a sea of red tape in return for which they obtain very little benefit. At the same time, even relatively minor issues of non-compliance can result in accreditation being removed overnight.

Whilst for most farmers there is the opportunity to rectify issues before it has a major impact on their business, for those involved in dairy farming or fresh produce in particular it can have an immediate impact on their businesses if they are then unable to sell their produce.

Whilst there are a mix of statutory and contractual obligations upon landlords and tenants in relation to the repair, maintenance and replacement of buildings and fixed equipment, tenant farmers often find themselves either unable to get their landlords to carry out necessary repairs and replacements or, at times, the consent to carry out repairs and replacements themselves.

In certain situations, where standards are statutory, tenants may be able to pursue their landlords for compliance, but this necessarily takes time, effort and expense.