Farm assurance standards for the UK poultry sector are to be raised later this year as part of a drive across the farming industry to keep standards up to date and meet customer expectations.
The Red Tractor Assurance (RTA) scheme, which covers 75% of all UK agricultural production, seeks to introduce changes to boost animal welfare, biosecurity and compliance from poultry producers, starting from November.
The consultation, which closes in early March, spells out the following proposed changes:
The RTA scheme is also proposing changes across all sectors. These include measures to protect the environment, including the inclusion of the Farming Rules for Water, which aim to reduce soil erosion and nutrient run off.
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It also wants to build worker welfare into the standards to ensure members are taking sensible steps to protect the safety and wellbeing of workers on-farm. UK agriculture’s health and safety record is poor, and farming is identified as an at-risk sector for labour exploitation. As part of this, each site will need to nominate a welfare officer. Jim Moseley, RTA chief executive, said standards had to be kept up to date to make sure that British produce is well-placed to capitalise on the new trade opportunities stemming from the UK’s exit from the European Union. In a letter to members seen by Poultry World, Mr Moseley writes: “Having an accreditation assurance scheme that is not only recognised by consumers and the supply chain, but also understands how farmers operate, will be essential as we enter a period that will mean great change for many farmers.”
While comments on farming forums were negative, with producers arguing that the measures would pile on costs, the NFU said members should respond to the consultation. Stuart Roberts, NFU deputy president, said it was vital farmers voiced their opinion and continued to influence the assurance standards Red Tractor provides. “Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that our standards on food, whether for animal welfare, food safety, or environmental protection, meet the needs of both farmers and the public.”