As the Red Tractor scheme stirs debate, Love Local Trust Local steps up to restore confidence in local, traceable British produce, says founder Barbara Cossins
I write to you today with a deep sense of concern. The Red Tractor food chain assurance scheme is the subject of much discussion at the moment. It recently faced major backlash from the farming community when it announced the Greener Farms Commitment, planned for launch in April 2024. Red Tractor has now said it will not proceed with the implementation of any new standards or additional modules until an independent NFU review, focusing on Red Tractor governance, is completed.
The review was ordered after Red Tractor was accused of acting outside its remit when it announced its Greener Farms Commitment – which required farmers to demonstrate the environmental credentials of the food they produce in order to boost retailers’ environmental aims. It was developed with retailers, but with no proper consultation with farmers.
The NFU is part of the ownership body of Red Tractor, and concerns were expressed about the independence of the governance review, after it was announced that Red Tractor’s board was intending to lead it. This week, The NFU has appointed consultants Campbell Tickell to undertake the independent review. Red Tractor chair, Christine Tacon, says: ‘The views of our members are very important, and we are sorry that we have been slow to understand them fully. The discussion that has been provoked is essential and offers a great opportunity for the farming sectors and supply chains to work together.’
There is an alternative
In 2018, after Open Farm Sunday, I set up a not-for-profit self-funded food label, Love Local Trust Local, to stand up against the clear misuse of the Red Tractor labelling. Dorset’s very own produce label was created to help put consumer trust back into buying local, and to promote products with clear provenance and full traceability
Over the last few years, I have been horrified at the misuse of food labelling by certain large supermarkets, with fake farm brands and the Red Tractor logo displayed on food imported from countries with very different farming standards from ours. As a farmer’s wife, I work relentlessly to support and showcase local farmers and producers with a label that the consumer can trust.
By using the county flag, the label signifies where the produce is grown, reared, produced, brewed, or caught – thus putting the trust back into buying local while helping to educate consumers about where and how their food is grown. The logo has been designed to be easily recognisable and is adaptable to any county – or nationally.
The silent opinion
British farmers have no direct voice to consumers. Our government seemingly isn’t doing anything to help. We must work together and get behind the Love Local Trust Local label. There is no better time to get involved. Our farming industry is fragile, and there is an ongoing concern about where our food will come from in the future.
The time is right for shoppers to buy produce from our own land, farmers, and producers.
Let’s celebrate everything Britain has to offer – before it is too late.