Red Tractor sector board requests confidence vote in leadership

A meeting of Red Tractor’s Beef & Lamb sector board was cut short early following a request for a vote of no confidence in the executive, including chief executive Jim Moseley. 

At the board’s meeting yesterday, which was said to be “difficult, but not antagonistic” by one attendee, the farmer and processor representatives voted for the motion, AHDB abstained and the retailers voted against.

There is no precedent for such a vote being held by one of the sector boards.

See more: Red Tractor axes plans for Greener Farms Commitment

The motion was passed after the National Sheep Association (NSA), which has a representative on the Beef & Lamb board, sent a letter outlining its concerns about the assurance scheme’s management to the Red Tractor ownership body and chairwoman Christine Tacon.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “We’ve long been supportive of farm assurance as a principle, but constantly over the years we’ve tried to say the scheme isn’t working for the sheep sector.

“The Campbell Tickell review into Red Tractor talked about the need for a bold new approach, and we’ve got absolutely no confidence that the current leadership team is capable or prepared to preside over the changes that we feel are necessary. It was a statement.”

Mr Stocker told Farmers Weekly he hoped the move would spark conversations on the other sector boards – none of which have a farmer majority like Beef & Lamb – and on the ownership body.

The ownership body is made up of representatives from the NFU, NFU Scotland, Ulster Farmers Union, AHDB, Dairy UK and the British Retail Consortium.

“The key thing here is the ownership body is predominantly farming organisations,” said Mr Stocker.

“That to me seems to be the key to make making changes in the future.”

An AHDB spokesperson said: “AHDB chose to abstain from the vote. Our view is that such a vote of this nature needs clear consideration and discussion within AHDB in the context of recent public statements by the Assured Food Standards board that recognises the need for change as well as the wider context on the role of assurance of which a review is currently being conducted.”

The motion at the Beef & Lamb board follows an earlier verbal vote of no confidence in Red Tractor chief executive Jim Moseley passed by the Ulster Farmers Union.

Christine Tacon, Red Tractor chairwoman said: “We confirm that the Red Tractor Beef & Lamb sector board meeting held on 24 April was halted early after a member requested a confidence vote.

“The board was split in response, and so the meeting disbanded pending the main Red Tractor board considering a letter from the member.

“It is for the Owners and the main board to now consider its response. Red Tractor fully recognises the concerns raised, which have been expressed previously – direct from farmers and in the latest Campbell Tickell review.

“That message has been heard, and a number of changes have already been implemented to start to address this extremely serious issue.

“In the meantime, it is clear that despite concerns and differences of opinion, the Beef & Lamb sector board remains strongly supportive of Red Tractor’s role in UK food and farming and it’s fundamental importance, now and in the future.”

Beef & Lamb board members

  • John Dracup – chairman
  • David Morgan – NFU
  • Will Jackson – AHDB
  • Alice Liddle – British Retail Consortium (BRC)/Food Service
  • Zanna Dennis – Livestock Auctioneers Association
  • Bryan Griffiths – National Sheep Association
  • Rob Venner – National Beef Association
  • Dean Holroyd – British Meat Processors Association
  • Henry Blain – Multiple retailer
  • Natalie Smith – Multiple retailer
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