Northern Irish farm group ‘opposed to unannounced inspections’

A farming union in Northern Ireland says they strongly oppose implementing unannounced inspections.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it is concerned by plans from Red Tractor to introduce the measure.

UFU deputy president, Victor Chestnutt said:

“The UFU has been at the forefront of challenging Red Tractor’s new risk-based approach to farm inspections.
“We have met them a number of times and thought it was important grassroots members had the opportunity to put concerns directly to Red Tractor representatives.
“It is vital Red Tractor understand our concerns. There were lively question and answer sessions at both meetings and farmers questioned Red Tractor on all aspects of the quality assurance scheme.
“Uniformity across the UK regions when it comes to the stringency of Red Tractor inspections is crucial. Currently, there is an unjust view that NI dairy farms struggle to meet the same standards as farms in GB. This is simply not true.”

In response, Jim Moseley, CEO of Red Tractor Assurance said, “We are constantly strengthening our standards in line with scientific advances and consumer demand.

“We know shoppers are increasingly looking for more informed choice and simple signposts to traceable, safe and responsibly produced food, which is why we are looking to extend the remit of Red Tractor. Increasing confidence in Red Tractor and the entire UK food industry is vital, particularly as we approach Brexit.”

The UFU says dairy farmers are frustrated with Red Tractor’s inspection process and that concerns raised with the farm quality assurance body have not been addressed to date. “Red Tractor have heard first-hand the concerns of grassroots dairy farmers in Northern Ireland. We now want to work with them to see these issues addressed. Farmers largely support the concept of a farm quality assurance scheme but it must work for all parties. Unfortunately, many aspects of the new risk-based approach are problematic for farmers.”

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