Exclusive Clive Beddall The NFU's controversial Farm Standard mark will be boosted by a nationwide advertising and marketing drive this autumn ­ amid claims that the red tractor symbol has made stuttering progress since receiving a send-off from Tony Blair in June. Details are under wraps, but The Grocer understands instore activity will be stepped up with more products featuring the mark as additional suppliers and retailers get behind the scheme. Industry cynics have alleged that despite the PM's backing, the tractor has failed to raise awareness of British farm food as it has made only limited appearances instore. And there have also been claims from militant farmers' groups that it will fail as a "symbol of all that's best in British food and farming" as foreign producers are, under EU law, allowed to adopt it. However, on Wednesday promoters of the mark leapt to its defence. An NFU spokeswoman said: "It's true some retailers have made a cautious start, but all major UK chains are now behind the scheme, and independent stores and farm shops are committing their support. "But it takes time to introduce new packaging and promotional material to develop such a wide ranging scheme. "No product will carry the symbol unless it deserves to do so. Only UK assurance schemes which are committed to achieving, maintaining and promoting high standards of production will be permitted. And the multiples have also said they will not use the mark on foreign produce." The Grocer understands over 300 companies are now licensed to use the mark. However, since many licences cover large multi-sited businesses, the number of licensed food packing or processing sites is nearer to 400. David Clarke, chief executive of Assured Food Standards (AFS), the company responsible for developing the mark and policing its standards, said: "Some people have tried to confuse the message behind the new standard. It is captured in four words Food you can trust'. "Any food carrying the logo is produced to standards of industry good practice at all relevant steps in the food chain." {{NEWS }}