National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

NBA Unconvinced by RTA Proposals for the Introduction of Whole Life Assurance

2nd September 2015

Region: National

After a meeting of the Policy Committee to discuss members concerns over the RTA Whole Life Assurance, NBA Chief Executive, Chris Mallon upholds the consensus of the meeting, with the NBA standing by the decision to reject the current proposals for the introduction of Lifetime Assurance as outlined in the RTA consultation.

Commenting Chris said: “After consultation with members, Whole Life Assurance without the proper infrastructure in place, or enough voluntary sign is an unnecessary burden on an industry that is already comprehensively regulated, and as such we cannot offer support in favour of the current Red Tractor proposal for Whole Life Assurance.”

It was however, agreed that the NBA would still support WLA, if and when certain conditions were met including;

  • Cattle EID being implemented (with minimum of 95% of breeding herd EID registered).
  • The existence of a suitably forensically tested database.
  • The minimum of 90% of all currently unassured Beef Suckler and Store producers must have subscribed voluntarily to an assurance scheme.
  • Those retailers/processors currently endeavouring to influence free trade by imposing discounts on cattle residing on more than 4 holdings during their lifetime; there must be agreement to drop such conditions and aspirations for retailer’s mainstream product ranges.

In formulating its consultation response the NBA carefully considered feedback from its members and national committees as well as conducting a formal survey where it invited farmers to share their views on RTA WLA proposals and assurance matters generally.

Completing the survey, 93.8% of the respondents kept beef, whilst 54.4% kept sheep, 9.75% had dairy enterprises and 73.7% were already Farm Assured.

Responses to the NBA survey included;

  • 89% believed that the present statutory legislations they work under from both the EU and UK legislatures gives consumers all the assurance they need.
  • 87% believe that the inspections already carried out by the RPA, Trading Standards Officers and other bodies are fully comprehensive.
  • 76% believe it is not necessary for an animal to spend its whole life on an assured holding to ensure high standards of welfare and traceability are accomplished.
  • 72% did not consider cattle needed to reside on a farm assured holding for their life to be assured.

The NBA reaction to the RTA was a summary of over 500 individual responses received from throughout the country.  Responses for the NBA members represented the views of those at the sharp end of livestock husbandry and demonstrated that the RTA lacked support even from  RTA members to move forward with WLA.

The NBA is not alone in the views they have expressed and are joined with many other farming organisations around the UK voicing dissatisfaction on behalf of their members at the conclusions reached by the RTA management following their review of the consultation responses.

A statement released by the RTA on 14th August confirming that assured farmers will still be able to purchase non assured cattle alongside assured cattle has been welcomed by the NBA.  It is however vital to the viability of the industry that all cattle will continue to be assured after a 90 day residency on an assured holding.

Chris goes on to say; “We recommend a market led approach, if a retailer wants to sell WLA beef it should pay a premium to encourage suppliers to supply it.  For those processors under pressure from retailers for whole life assured cattle, the NBA recommends that if the demand really does exist, market forces should come into play and bonuses for WLA cattle will ensure their supply. Any premium will feed down through to store producers and will encourage non assured producers of store cattle to join up.  Failure to produce such a premium will indicate that there is no demand from consumers for WLA and we can continue with the current arrangements as always augmented by all the other requirements we have to fulfil including BCMS/CTS, cross compliance including all the GAEC’s and all Statutory Management Requirements.”

It was agreed by EU Farming Commissioner, Phil Hogan and Richard MacDonald that we need to see a decrease in regulation and red tape, and not more, as is currently being proposed by the RTA.

Chris concludes; “The results of our own and other national surveys are consistent, demonstrating around 70% of farmers oppose the RTA WLA/LTA proposals. This weight of feeling has even been identified in Red Tractor’s own independent (Spedding/Gatward) review which stated that ‘clearly more responding farmers are against the proposals than supported them.’

“There can be no doubt that there is an overwhelming weight of widespread documented evidence that the Red Tractors Whole Life Assurance proposals have been rejected by farmer and farmer organisations.  The NBA is very concerned that support from livestock farmers for RTA will be damaged if RTA does not listen to the members its proposals and standards affect the most.”


Media Enquiries – Glendale PR – 01668 283044 –  [email protected]

Chris Mallon Chief Executive – 01434 601 005 –  [email protected]

National Beef Association, Mart Centre, Tyne Green, Hexham – 01434601005,  [email protected]