Exclusive Clive Beddall The major multiples have given a commitment to Tony Blair and the NFU that they will only use the new British Farm Standard mark on home produced goods, despite rumours that foreign suppliers will seek to gain accreditation to the scheme. The move, which has delighted farm union officials, is regarded in agriculture circles as one of the most significant endorsements yet for home produced food and drink by the high street chains. And it has also allayed concerns among farmers' leaders that foreign producers of a range of products from bacon to orange juice will soon seek membership of the scheme, thus "reducing its effectiveness as a tool for bringing British farm quality home to the public". Under EU law, it would be illegal to prevent overseas producers seeking accreditation to use the NFU's new red and blue tractor logo. However, they would first need to join one of the accredited UK assurance schemes and then satisfy a strict code of criteria. The mark is set for a high profile launch by the Prime Minister in London early next month and the first products bearing the red and blue tractor logo will appear in stores after June 12. However, despite being given a strong endorsement by Tony Blair, agriculture minister Nick Brown and the chief executives of major supermarkets last month, the mark has already created controversy. Although the CEOs publicly backed the scheme during the PM's farm crisis summit, there have been widespread rumours that category managers in certain chains do not share their bosses' enthusiasm, raising fears that the mark's effectiveness at store level could be hit. One criticism voiced by multiple buyers is that the tractor is "just another mark amid a plethora of symbols." However, the NFU said on Wednesday that it was planned for the mark ultimately to pull together existing marks under one all embracing symbol. As The Grocer went to Press, NFU officials were meeting retailers in final talks to discuss its implementation on packs and point of sale. "We are delighted with the multiples' support," said a spokeswoman. Initially, the mark will appear on beef and lamb, certain poultry products, fruit and veg and salads, but other goods are expected to follow later as licences are agreed. The logo is protected by trademark and its use on retail packs will be under the strict control of a standards council. {{NEWS }}