Anne Bruce
The NFU has enlisted prime minister Tony Blair to relaunch its little red tractor at a conference on November 12.
The union will ask retailers and manufacturers to take joint ownership of a revamped Assured Farm Standards 2 scheme, and set up a video link to the pm for the relaunch. The new scheme will have a central administrative structure with its basic standards extended to cover environmental criteria. These have been decided with input from food industry bodies.
The logo will now be extended to processed food, such as pies. Processing plants, abattoirs, cutting sheds and bakeries will be eligible for certification. The NFU wants to generate "millions of pounds" in support from retailers and processors. Deputy president Michael Paske said: "We would like money from all the retailers, but recognise a lot will be paid in kind ­ through promotion in store. Retailers recognise the huge benefits of promotion of British food."
The NFU has secured an undisclosed grant from Defra for the project. And food industry figures, including food and farming minister Lord Whitty, Sir Don Curry, Assured Food Standards MD Chris Barnes, National Consumer Council chair Deirdre Hutton, Sainsbury CEO Sir Peter Davis, FSA deputy chairman Suzy Leather and NFU president Ben Gill will address the NFU conference. Paske said: "We hope the launch of Assured Farm Standards 2 will be the final push to achieve what we have been trying to do over the past two years, taking the red tractor scheme to being owned by the whole food chain."

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