Comparative study highlights Red Tractor’s ‘world-leading’ standards

Red Tractor is the highest performing scheme of its type in the world, according to a new independent, international benchmarking study.

The bold claim is made by Nuffield Scholar Dr Jonathan Birnie, who compared global farm assurance schemes over a six-months period.

While some smaller schemes have higher standards in specific areas, the results showed the ‘breadth and depth of Red Tractor to be second-to-none’, especially in areas such as traceability and food safety.

Dr Birnie, who has worked for Sainsbury’s and Dunbia, said: “As a complete scheme Red Tractor is the highest performing on an international basis. While there are areas that could be developed the existing scheme is comprehensive and a great foundation on which to build these additional standards.

“I have come away with a great amount of confidence in Red Tractor following my detailed comparable analysis of all food sectors globally.”

In Pigs, Red Tractor was found to be strong in antibiotic usage monitoring, although the report concluded there are ‘opportunities for Red Tractor to develop its welfare standards in areas that have been identified, for example, space and enrichment’.

Other key findings included:

  • Red Tractor was found to be consistently world-leading in traceability and food safety.
  • In food safety Red Tractor performs well against all other schemes, particularly the provision of specific and detailed standards.
  • Red Tractor performed very well in terms of staff training standards. However, significant development is required across all schemes, including Red Tractor, on Worker Welfare and the Ethical Treatment of agricultural workers.
  • In Beef & Lamb, Red Tractor was found to be the strongest overall scheme in terms of breadth and depth. Red Tractor husbandry standards are above all broad coverage schemes but behind the high welfare schemes.
  • In Dairy, Red Tractor is again the strongest overall scheme in terms of breadth and depth.
  • In Produce, Red Tractor & GLOBALG.A.P are the strongest overall schemes by a considerable margin.
  • In broiler chickens new enrichment standards are very robust and almost in line with the RSPCA (bales, perches and pecking objects).
  • The Red Tractor Chicken Scheme is world-leading in terms of its whole assurance chain i.e. assured breeder farms.

Red Tractor CEO, Jim Moseley said: “Our standards are world-class as is evidenced by this research and increases our determination to be the flagship of British food and farming.

“Our vision and the work we are already implementing to develop standards in certain areas will place Red Tractor firmly at the centre of UK agriculture worldwide. However, our focus remains working hard to ensure that every standard is in place on every farm, every day.”

He said the findings support Red Tractor’s plans, announced last year, to change its structure to cover specialist areas such as higher welfare, environmental enhancement and organic production.

“Our ambition is to combine the current robust core of Red Tractor with additional standards on single issues to create a broader and stronger offer, Mr Moseley said.

The study was unveiled at an event hosted by Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe at the House of Lords today.

These are the schemes covered in the comparative study:

Red Ttractor study

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.