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Increasing Farm Assurance Standards Through AFS

15 December 2009

UK - Farmers can expect the adoption of more robust, voluntary, farm assurance inspection points covering all the major production disciplines from April 1st 2010.

The National Beef Association (NBA) is supporting Assured Food Standards (AFS), which is leading the move to harmonise the standards across all production sectors under the Red Tractor logo, because it backs improvements through existing, UK based, cost effective, practical, farm assurance schemes and is keen to avoid more expensive, potentially punishing, internationally favoured, HACCP based, alternatives that could be pushed towards the industry by retailers.

“A producer led process, which will improve some standards and harmonise existing assurance demands across a range of UK farm types is in progress. It will have positive implications for beef farmers; the biggest of which is that it keeps UK farm assurance close to the UK industry and separated from globally inspired replacements favoured by giant retailers,” explained NBA director, Kim Haywood.

The Association was worried that powerful food stores were beginning to think the UK focused schemes led by AFS, which include Assured British Meat (ABM), were being overtaken by the rapidly progressing, Global Gap (Global Good Agricultural Practice), integrated assurance system, which is being adopted in any country willing to take it.

"We are pleased that the UK is responding voluntarily to the threat, by upgrading and integrating existing schemes which will keep Global Gap, which encourages internationally recognised standards that cover imports and home produced products in equal measure, beyond UK borders.

“The NBA supports, independent, cost effective, practical farm assurance through AFS and is against retailers imposing themselves by pressing for the introduction of a more expensive, more complex, international scheme which would threaten high cost UK farm operations because its standards are global and therefore makes no distinction between home produced food and imports,” said Ms Haywood.

“The harmonisation of farm assurance demands through AFS, which are most likely to concentrate on aligning standards covering safety, environment and animal welfare, is a positive forward move especially for mixed farms and should not impact on inspection times and costs.”

“More specifically its integration will allow dairy calves born on assured farms to keep their assurance status if they are moved onto assured beef farms – which will be a great improvement on current structures.”

“Beef farmers whose farms are due for an assurance inspection in April, and are worried about not having time to meet new standards, can buy themselves extra time if they can bring forward their inspection to March,” Ms Haywood added.

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