• Christine gave an overview of her activities since becoming Chair in January. These were substantial, including support for various webinars for the consultation and meeting various stakeholders and interest groups for Red Tractor. She is very keen to reinstate confidence and pride in the Red Tractor brand, both by supporting the Red Tractor team and in understanding how the scheme can better add value to each stakeholder (retailer to farmer). She listed her key areas of focus as:
    • Each sector Board to prioritise which standards are really needed and to clarify where a standard is present for a) legislation, b) good agricultural practice, c) food safety and d) in support of industry initiatives;
    • Understanding how technology and data capture can be better employed to collate data and provide a more sophisticated risk analysis;
    • Understanding the end user's employment of Red Tractor for domestic production vs imported food (i.e. to avoid dual standards / potential unfairness);
    • Discovering where there can be more use of the Red Tractor logo - she talked about going round supermarkets and seeing where the brand could be added
    • Getting the Sector boards and TACs to work more effectively; she listed that the boards and TACs involve 150 people, so she feels the consultation should therefore have not been so controversial if the representatives on these boards and TACs were really doing their job
  • Jim presented the CEO report which included an update on the Red Tractor module system, with the desire to push ahead on the Organic module in 2021. I asked whether there was a market desire for this and if Red Tractor had the capacity to drive this forward in a busy year where the core standards had to be analysed and implemented. Studies in market demand are ongoing, though Stuart Roberts from the NFU said that as a farmer he would use this, and Jim assured the Board that the team had capacity to roll a new module out.
  • The initial feedback from the v5 Standards Consultation was presented. 
    • 35 retailers and food service representatives had responded to the consultation; 543 farmers had responded. (32 x farmer organisations; 36 vets; 11 NGOs; 3 scientists and 83 classed as 'other').
    • There was a good engagement across each sector; with pigs being very well represented.
    • A good proportion of the proposed 'standard' changes were largely accepted.
    • Worker welfare: proposals to go back to each Sector Board and TAC for review:
      • Health and Safety will be added to every standard; produce likley to add most revisions where consensus achieved.
      • Develop a separate module to include stronger content for worker welfare which the end customer can request from their supply chain (early 2022 target date)
    • Environment: proposals to go back to each Sector Board and TAC for review:
      • Farming Rules for Water most hotly debated area as while this is legislation, noted by many that the EA haven't enforced it. A discussion was had whether this transfer of government responsibility to Red Tractor was appropriate and if so, whether it had a value.
      • Red Tractor are likely to develop a separate module for environment which the end customer can request from their supply chain (early 2022 target date)
      • All noted that this area is changing rapidly, so any standard needs to be flexible enough to change annually if required (vs every 4 years)
  • The updated business plan was also presented: it has been updated to include the reduction / removal of audit burden and to accelerate the use of technology for data collation.

Next meeting: 28 May 2021