NSA demands a truly independent review of Red Tractor and the assurance needs of farming sectors

9th November 2023

As the Red Tractor Ownership Board prepares to meet to discuss the future of the assurance scheme, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is calling for those forming the review panel to be of truly independent background.

NSA Chief Executive, Phil Stocker, comments: “NSA has been steadfast in its response to recent Red Tractor decisions, and is calling for a completely independent review, with an independent chair and panel, to assess not only the governance of Red Tractor but also what the sector needs from assurance schemes.

In a previous statement, NSA outlined that it welcomed a review and highlighted concerns that The Greener Farms Commitment was taking Red Tractor into the realm of setting environmental policy in isolation rather than getting behind the key environmental and sustainable farming schemes being introduced by Defra.

NSA Vice President and Red Tractor Sector Board member, Bryan Griffiths, adds: “This review must be independent in order to gain confidence and trust from the sector. Allowing the agricultural sector, Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) members, sector board members, and farming businesses, including those who are not part of Red Tractor, to give oral and written evidence to an independent panel. The review must address the glaring issues with board appointments, openness, terms of reference, issues with harmonisation across sectors and most importantly what is achievable at farm level.”

Mr Stocker continues: “It is no secret that Red Tractor has been losing sheep sector membership continually over the past few years. The sector has lost trust and confidence in the direction and management of Red Tractor and any review must get to the root of the issue of what the sheep farming sector, throughout its supply chain, needs from assurance.  We have to consider that we have a diverse range of markets and we need a proper debate over how Red Tractor, and indeed other standard setters and assurance bodies can support our industry.”