Red Tractor faces 'existential crisis' if improvements not made

The report says the situation is 'serious and damaging' for Red Tractor, but 'need not be fatal' (Photo: Red Tractor)
The report says the situation is 'serious and damaging' for Red Tractor, but 'need not be fatal' (Photo: Red Tractor)

Red Tractor faces a situation that could become to an 'existential crisis' if improvements are not made, according to the final report on its governance.

The report from Campbell Tickell, commissioned by the NFU following a backlash aimed at the Greener Farms Commitment module, makes recommendations to improve the governance of the assurance body.

It found that Red Tractor followed the agreed governance pathway to arrive at the controversial module.

The report urges that, alongside governance changes, Red Tractor makes a sustained effort to communicate its purpose and engage further with scheme members.

However, it warns that Red Tractor "faces intense criticisms and mistrust from a significant minority at least of the farming community".

It goes on to say that the "current situation is serious, and damaging for Red Tractor, but need not be fatal."

The review, irrespective of the ongoing second review or its future outcome, can be seen as "an opportunity for a reset".

"But for this opportunity to be taken successfully requires commitment and timely action not just by Red Tractor but also by the ownership bodies," the report says.

The Red Tractor owners, including the NFU, say they expect that the assurance body's board and leadership to "reflect and act on its recommendations".

The NFU said: "We believe that this review presents a vital opportunity for Red Tractor to consider its future, addressing challenges such as devolved agricultural policy, and supply chain fairness, and ensuring that UK food production has a secure future.

"We also look forward to sharing more information soon about the second, wider, review of farm assurance and outlining ways our members can help shape the future.

"We want to thank Campbell Tickell for taking on this report, recognising the strength of feeling across the industry on this subject, and for their professional approach to the task."

The review found that Red Tractor governance is sound and comments that: “Red Tractor’s procedures were followed and there was no procedural breach in relation to the events which gave rise to the decision to commission this review."

Regarding the Greener Farms Commitment, the review confirms that the proposals are correctly part of Red Tractor’s remit: “Red Tractor’s standards are to cover food safety, animal welfare and the protection of the environment."

The report says: "Red Tractor’s activities, in producing its assurance standards, promoting the Red Tractor Brand and developing the environmental module, the Greener Farms Commitment, fall full-square within its corporate objects.”

Red Tractor Chair, Christine Tacon said: “The review sends a clear message about the level of frustration farmers feel and we need to listen carefully to their views.

"We will also continue to increase our efforts and investment in communicating Red Tractor’s purpose and benefits to farmer members."