In the latest issue of Pig World, Red Tractor chair Stewart Houston gives his take on Red Tractor’s controversial Green Farms Commitment and provides an update on the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway.
OK, let’s be brave and talk about Red Tractor (RT) and the Greener Farm Commitment (GFC). All of our retail customers have been under pressure from both their customers and investors to demonstrate their environmental credentials, including logistics, in store and those who supply them.
Environment and Carbon are the new Welfare (although that hasn’t gone away), and each of the retailers have been talking for some time about the introduction of environmental assessments from their suppliers.
RT has worked with the supermarkets and the rest of the supply chain for over two years, looking to replace what might have been up to 10 different retail inspections with one (the RT GFC). It’s also worth noting that during the preparation process the GFC was assessed by two independent specialist consultants, together with a number of pilot farms to test its value for money.
The GFC has gone through a process, including three presentations to the Pigs Board (and the other Sector Boards) since 2022. In broad terms, your Pigs Board agrees with the direction of travel, citing that we are already doing much of it but not recording it, although we recognise that the devil will be in the detail, which we’ll get into after the NFU Governance Review.
You’ll have seen a little win for farmers and processors following a joint effort between RT and NSF (our main Certification Body) to gain access to the Californian market, where confinement of sows is banned. The bigger processors pushed for help to gain access early last year. It’s been a complicated process, especially as we’re outsiders, with definitions of categories of stock and space requirements to overcome, but I hope there will be British pork in California before Christmas!
Having raised NFL, I’ve heard of some worries that dropping to one Certification Body for the pig sector will lead to increased fees. We think not, and NSF have been the best of the bunch for some time in pigs, and only a handful of producers had chosen to work with SAI. Other Red Tractor sectors have managed with one CB for some time without any difficulty, and I see it as a big opportunity to work closely with NSF to improve delivery further.
On now to the Health and Welfare Pathway. I’m looking forward to 2024 being a pivotal year for the pig sector, with the Veterinary Reviews now open to non-BPS farms and the need to register before committing to the Review removed.
Spring will see us kicking off the government supported PRRS Reduction Program (our part of the Endemics Program) with an increase in the breadth of the tests and interventions, including an increased list of targeted grants to support the project.
We’ve some work to do on biosecurity, mapping, weaner movements and making it easier for the integrators and their agisters to join in, which we’ll kick off with the Pathway Pig Group before Christmas.
This will be a huge, one-off opportunity to get on top of our most debilitating diseases so please watch this space for more information on why and how you should join up.
And finally, what a night at the Pig Awards, top entertainment, highest number of entries yet, and the biggest turnout yet at the Awards. What a great industry we have!