National Beef Association
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NBA welcomes Red Tractor meeting on proposed assurance changes

23rd January 2015

Region: National

NBA welcomes Red Tractor meeting on proposed assurance changes

Farmers urged to attend open meeting on plans for scheme

The National Beef Association (NBA) has welcomed the decision of the Red Tractor Association (RTA) to send representatives to a special meeting organised to discuss proposed changes to the industry assurance scheme.

The NBA has joined forces with the National Sheep Association (NSA) and the National Union of Farmers (NFU) to support the meeting for South West beef and sheep farmers on Thursday January 29 in Cullompton, Devon. The RTA’s Beef and Lamb Chairman John Thorley will be joined by its Technical Advisory Committee Chairman Andrew Blenkiron and Sector Manager Philippa Wiltshire to answer farmers’ questions.

Further meetings to discuss the proposed changes are also scheduled at Skipton Livestock Market on Tuesday 3rd February at 6.00pm and Warwicks Complex,  Stoneleigh Park on Thursday 12th February 6pm.  

Concerns have been raised about Red Tractor’s plans to introduce a number of changes to the scheme, especially the proposal to extend the current 90 days that cattle must be on a farm to the lifetime of the animal.

NBA Chief Executive Chris Mallon said: “We welcome the opportunity this Red Tractor meeting offers and we hope it goes someway to address farmers’ concerns about the planned new regulations. This is an important meeting for the future of the beef industry and I would like to encourage as many of our members as possible to attend.

“Our members are worried about what the proposals will mean for their businesses and for the wider beef sector. As their voice, the NBA is delighted that RTA representatives are coming to meet our members and explain why they want to revise their standards. I am also looking forward to hearing further details about the plans and the RTA’s response to feedback from those who will be most affected by them.”

The NBA exists to support its members and promote the British beef sector. At the heart of its work is ensuring a viable and profitable beef industry for the future. However, the organisation is concerned about how some of changes proposed by the RTA will benefit its members and consumers.

Under the new proposals, those rearing cattle will have to become farm assured and finishers will no longer be able to buy young stock from farms which are not. It’s feared this could result in more farmers, especially smaller producers, leaving the industry which is likely to result in a further reduction in the size of the national herd.

NBA members have also expressed worries about the £150 annual fee to become farm assured and the additional paperwork, regulations and inspections this will involve.

David Thomlinson Chair of the NBA said: “Our members tell us they are happy with the current 90-day on-farm requirement, which provides adequate assurance for consumers about the traceability of the meat they are buying.

“However, we are pleased Red Tractor is attending this open meeting to address these issues, and we are confident they will receive invaluable feedback from the people on the ground that they can take away with them and use when reviewing their proposals.

“We do not need full farm assurance, and this is not something supermarkets or shoppers are asking for. British beef is already renowned throughout the world for its quality and traceability. The NBA believes that changes should only be introduced if they are beneficial to both consumers and the industry.”

The NBA is looking at this with an open mind but we have concerns for some of our members.  We hope this meeting will help to highlight these worries and other issues we feel may result if the proposals are put into action.

The NBA is keen that as many farmers in the South West attend the open meeting to put forward their views. This is the first time that Red Tractor has consulted members about changes to the assurance scheme, which is reviewed and updated every three years.

The meeting begins at 6pm at the Padbrook Park Hotel, Cullompton, Devon (EX15 1RU) and is open to all.