Red Tractor online assesment

Source: Red Tractor 

The ‘pioneering’ new system would safeguard UK farming’s supply chain, Red Tractor said

  • The system would allow Red Tractor members to retain their assurance status throughout the pandemic

  • Red Tractor claimed its remote regime was sufficiently robust to replace routine inspections


Red Tractor is set to launch a new live-streaming farm audit system that will allow assessors to have “virtual eyes” on assessed farms.

The scheme halted all physical farm assessments last month in accordance with government advice on social distancing and non-essential travel.

But given the expectations of the public and its members “to maintain the integrity of the Red Tractor scheme, even during this challenging time” it decided to investigate online solutions to continue farm assessments, said CEO Jim Moseley.

The “pioneering” system would safeguard UK farming’s supply chain, Red Tractor said, and would allow it to assess new applicants and current members to retain their assurance status throughout the coronavirus pandemic – without the need for assessors to travel to farms.

“Members around the UK have shown great resilience and resourcefulness in recent weeks to keep the supply of great British food moving from farms to shops,” Moseley added.

But given the challenges presented by coronavirus, he said it was “important we developed a remote assessment option” which wasn’t burdensome for members but also underpinned its mantra – that adhering to the standards wasn’t “merely an option, it is a necessity”.

Red Tractor’s remote regime was sufficiently robust to replace routine inspections, it claimed, thereby avoiding a backlog in inspections.

It used an online portal to enable farms to upload their documents and records and had already run a series of pilots using different live-streaming technologies, across all the sectors the scheme covers – pigs, poultry, crops, fresh produce, livestock and dairy.

The next phase of the development will be the scaling-up of pilots to stress test the new protocol, in order for Red Tractor to address any issues. More than 150 farmers had already expressed an interest in being a part of this next stage of the rollout, Red Tractor said.

From this week, under the new remote assessment programme, farms due their assurance assessment, or new applicants, can either opt for an offline pre-assessment, followed by a live stream partial assessment using video calling or online meeting software such as WhatsApp, Blue Jeans or Zoom.

Farmers who had successful remote assessments during this phase would not be required to have an additional physical assessment outside of their normal audit cycle, the scheme confirmed.

“While some farmers may be daunted at the prospect of a remote assessment, those that have trialled the approach see huge benefits and many believe this could herald another approach to auditing long after the impact of Covid-19,” Moseley added.

“We understand this new approach will take time to bed in, but we are committed to working with our members and certification bodies to make sure remote assessments are as straightforward as possible.”