EU close to giving the nod to Red Tractor

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Growers of crops and sugar beet could be given a head start in the biofuels market if the Red Tractor scheme is formally accepted by the European Union.

The updated Red Tractor farm assurance scheme is said to be on the verge of being officially accepted EU-wide in time for this year’s harvest.

The scheme has made its submission to the EU Commission to be officially recognised as having voluntary status and has now entered the final stages in its quest for approval.

It is hoped the move will keep the burden of new EU regulations to a minimum and mean the Red Tractor farm assurance will become the route for farmers to demonstrate they meet the new sustainability requirements for biofuel crops under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

NFU crops adviser Ruth Digby said: “The scheme was first submitted more than 18 months ago but a number of delays were encountered during the approval process.

“However, we are now getting positive signals our hard work has paid off, which would be welcome in time for this year’s harvest.

“In future the updated scheme, which has been designed to minimise the burden on farmers and removes the need for multiple audits by commercial companies on farm, will help to ensure UK crops remain accessible to all European markets.”

Matthew Read, chairman of the Red Tractor Crops and Sugar Beet scheme, said: “We have great confidence in the quality of the Red Tractor Crops and Sugar Beet scheme which, as well as its food safety objectives, has at its heart environmental protection and traceability.

“Through their member-ship farmers could retain access to the important European market place for their crops, without the need for additional audits.”