Close-up of beef cattle© Food and Drink/REX

More than three-quarters of beef farmers believe whole-life assurance is unnecessary and will not improve the supply chain, a poll has found.

The results of the Big Farm Survey, carried out by the National Beef Association (NBA), were published on Friday (27 March) – the same day the Red Tractor consultation on whole life assurance was due to end.

Red Tractor has been consulting on the proposal to extend farm assurance to cover the whole life of beef animals.

See also: Furious cattle farmers slam Red Tractor whole-life assurance rule changes

Existing rules state beef cattle only need to spend 90 days before slaughter on an assured holding to qualify for the scheme.

The consultation for the proposed rule changes insists cattle must spend their whole lives on assured farms.

However, the NBA survey showed 76% of farmers do not believe it is necessary for an animal to spend its life on an assured holding to ensure high standards of welfare and traceability.

“The proposed new whole-life assurance is unnecessary and will not improve the beef supply chain.”
Chris Mallon, National Beef Association 

When asked about the need for cattle to reside on a farm-assured holding for their whole life to be assured, 72% were against it with only 23% for whole-life assurance.

Of the 523 respondents to the survey, 89% believe that the present statutory legislation they work under, from both the EU and UK, legislatures gives consumers all the assurance that they need.

And 87.5% believe that the inspections already carried out by Rural Payments Agency, trading standards officers and others are fully comprehensive.

When those already farm assured were asked if they felt properly consulted by Red Tractor regarding the additional standards imposed in October 2014, an overwhelming 80% felt they had not been properly consulted.

NBA chief executive Chris Mallon said the results of the survey showed that beef farmers who are assured are satisfied with the regulations already in place.

“The proposed new whole-life assurance is unnecessary and will not improve the beef supply chain.” he added.

A statement from Red Tractor Assurance, issued on Tuesday (31 March), said the organisation would appoint an independent person to go through the consultation responses to ensure an unbiased and balanced view.

“Once that process is complete, the relevant RTA Sector Board and Red Tractor Board will consider the outcome of the consultation and take time to reflect and discuss. Only then will any next steps be formally announced. This is unlikely to be before August 2015.”