SNFU backs whole-farm accreditation
By Allan Wright
THE Scottish NFU is keen to encourage an industry-based scheme of whole-farm accreditation as a means of pre-empting a possible Government move to licence all farms.
“As a first step, we are pushing for a single, independent inspectorate to deliver farm assurance for the whole range of schemes covering beef and sheep production,” union president George Lyon told Farmers Weekly.
“An inspector, working through Scottish Food Quality Certification, to EU-approved standards, should be able to audit a farm for Scotch Quality Beef and Lamb Association farm assurance and then check on any extras demanded by the various partnership schemes run by supermarkets,” said Mr Lyon.
His next move would be to have the same inspectorate audit for other commodities like cereals and pigs.
He was disappointed that Scottish milk buyers decided to have their own, rather than independent, inspectors.
The final aim, Mr Lyon said, would be to have the same independent inspectors delivering whole-farm accreditation. “That would simplify the system, cut costs, and give us the initiative in any Government move to farm licensing.”
A single assurance system was badly needed to counter confusion among consumers faced with a bewildering number of farm and quality assurance schemes, according to Pete Goddard, an expert in animal welfare research at the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Aberdeen.
“There is an ever-increasing number of quality assurance schemes, but what measure of increased animal welfare they bring to animals is not obvious and the consumer may not be given enough information on which to base a judgment,” Dr Goddard said.
But Mr Lyons answer was that consumers trusted their retailer to guarantee an acceptable level of animal welfare.