14 February 2000
EC rejects ACCSs anti-competitive label

ACCUSATIONS that the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme is anti-competitive have been rejected by the European Commission.

The ECs directorate general for competition rejected a complaint by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) against the ACCS and its sister scheme the Assured Produce Scheme.

The European competition watchdog ruled that the ACCS “does not to any appreciable extent affect competition within the common market”.

ACCS chairman Jonathan Tipples welcomed the news: “We are delighted to have received official confirmation from Brussels that the scheme itself and support provided by growers, traders and receivers of combinable crops does not contravene competition legislation.

“This is vindication of our philosophy that the scheme actually offers purchasers and consumers genuine assurance about the production, handling and storage of combinable crops on farm.

“We repeatedly pointed out that standards do not go beyond what is required legally or set down in the ministry of agriculture code of practice.”

Mr Tipples said that the ACCS and APS were the only two assurance schemes in Europe to receive this approval from Brussels.

More than 8,000 growers have signed up for the ACCS.

The FSB has argued that the scheme means there are fewer and fewer outlets for non-assured grain.

Some farmers, frustrated at the paperwork and extra costs generated by increasing numbers of assurance schemes, have backed whole-farm schemes.

Eighteen months ago the EC chastised the ACCS for wrongly claiming the FSB had at that time failed in its complaint.