Progress towards lifetime-assured beef receives support

Upon reviewing a consultation completed earlier in the year, Red Tractor has revealed that progress has been made towards changing the classification of lifetime assurance for beef.

“Our particular concern is that, when it comes to beef, the definition we’ve always had for farm assurance is that we’re calling the animal ‘farm-assured’ if it spends the last 90 days on a farm-assured farm,” explained David Clarke, CEO of Red Tractor Association.

Considering the animal lives longer than that time period, Clarke believes that the 90-day time-frame is too limited: “We think it is probably time to move forward on that, because it is a weakness, and it’s not a weakness that we have with pig meat or poultry meat where we know exactly where the animal has been and the conditions it has been in.”

In a statement from Red Tractor, the organisation recognised that producers must be able to handle non-assured stock alongside assured stock should they choose to.

However, despite backing from many, Red Tractor also acknowledges that others are resisting the development.

“We have been talking about this for a very, very long time and the time has never been right to move it forward. We thought late last year we should go to consultation on this again, because we have had some encouragement to move this forward, but we know we have some who would prefer we stay where we are. So we had a consultation of all the industry stakeholders we could think of. We got about 200 responses and all that we have done this week is to simply say that we’ve had time to reflect on these responses and this is what we intend to do.”

Red Tractor admitted that it needed to do more to communicate how it will ensure this development does not reduce the availability of assured stock. It also explained that it ought to discuss why it has decided not to pursue some suggested methods of moving forward in favour of others.

Despite challenges along the way, Red Tractor Assurance claims it has clear objectives. Clarke concluded by saying: “We would want to move ultimately to a position where the animal has been on a farm that has been independently inspected before we can call it assured.”

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