MP Carla Lockhart has met with Jim Moseley, Chief Executive of the Red Tractor Assurance Scheme, to highlight a range of issues identified by local farmers.
Commenting after the meeting, Carla Lockhart said: “The Red Tractor Assurance Scheme is well established and recognisable across the industry as a mark of quality, and is seen as such by consumers too.
“However, being part of the scheme comes with a significant burden for farmers, both in terms of cost and bureaucracy.
“I stressed the need for Red Tractor to not just look at these factors and explore how this could be alleviated, but also how farmers could be supported in meeting these demands.
“At a time when we hear so much of the pressures facing those in our agriculture industry, and the mental health toll farmers face, we must look at every way possible of providing support to ease the strain.
“This could include ending the practice of completely unannounced inspections to provide at least some notice, but also help in maintaining records and paperwork.
“I will continue to liaise with Red Tractor on this. There is also an issue with some processors and supermarkets in Northern Ireland demanding farmers be part of the scheme, but not using the label on their product.
“That is wrong and goes against the marketing strength of the scheme and must be addressed.”