Next steps announced for farm assurance review

A review of farm assurance, set up by the UK and Ireland’s farming unions and the AHDB, has just announced its next steps.

farm land

The independent review of UK farm assurance in a post-Brexit world, followed hot on the heels of a backlash against Red Tractor, when it announced the launch of its Greener Farms Commitment (GFC). 

The review, however, will cover farm assurance as a whole. Commissioners have now set out the areas for investigation, developed an engagement plan and established a timeline.

Amongst other topics, the project will include: 

  • An assessment of best practice
  • Consideration of how methods of assurance can provide value to primary producers in a fast-changing environment
  • An evaluation of the relationship between assurance and regulation.

The lead commissioner is Dr David Llewellyn, former vice-chancellor of Harper Adams University.

He will be working with three other independent commissioners:

James Withers, ex-CEO of Scotland Food and Drink, Mark Suthern, the chair of trustees of the Farming Community Network, and a fourth commissioner whose appointment is in progress.

READ MORE: ‘Time for change’: NFU and AHDB announce review of farm assurance

READ MORE: Controversial Red Tractor module axed 

Engagement from farmers welcomed

Dr Llewellyn said: “The programme of work, which will cover seven distinct stages, will be aimed at letting anyone, or any organisation, that wants to share their views on this important subject be able to do that, regardless of where they sit in the supply chain.”

He added that the commissioners welcome this engagement. 

“We expect to involve farmers and farmer organisations, policy makers, food processors, retailers and consumer groups, as well as relevant trade associations and representative bodies.”

The project will continue until the end of the year. Periodic updates on progress will be issued to the farming and food community.

Commissioners will be seeking contributions to the review over the next few months. This will be via an online survey, submissions of evidence from representative bodies and, where required, interviews and online focus group discussions.  

READ MORE: Red Tractor review finds “no breach of procedure” 

We want to understand what works

“We want to ensure that we understand what works, and what doesn’t work, with assurance systems, so as to recommend ways in which the operating environment for the farming industry can be improved,” Dr Llewellyn.

The evidence will also involve direct engagement with stakeholders across the supply chain in a series of meetings. These will be held at agricultural shows and events over the summer.  

The programme for these events, and other information about the review, can be found on the commission’s website

Promar International is working with Supply Chain InSites to support the work of the commissioners for the duration of the review. 

Dr Llewellyn said they will report to the commissioners, not directly to the sponsors of the review, in order to ensure its independence and transparency.

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