Strong opposition to Red Tractor unannounced inspections, says UFU

Friday, 22 March, 2019

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says dairy farmers in Northern Ireland are strongly opposed to Red Tractor’s plans to introduce unannounced inspections and have made their concerns known directly to the farm quality assurance body. 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.”

The UFU hosted two meetings with Red Tractor representatives Angela Rhodes, Red Tractor Dairy Board Chair; and Philippa Wiltshire, Red Tractor External Affairs Manager. The first meeting was with the UFU dairy policy committee and the second was an open meeting for UFU members.

“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,” said Mr Chestnutt.

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.”