The Red Tractor Scheme
It has been a long time since I sat an exam but I was reminded of that pre-exam tension feeling a couple of weeks ago, when Alan came to visit the farm. Alan was a representative from the Red Tractor Assurance Scheme and had come to examine how our farm meets standards regarding animal welfare, crop production and environmental impact.
During this inspection, we had to demonstrate to Alan how any product from Castle Farm destined for human consumption had been produced in an ethical, environmentally sustainable and traceable way. Unlike GCSEs, this examination was undertaken voluntarily! Further, there was little that we could do (or fortunately needed to do) in the way of cramming the day before as we were demonstrating how the farm had operated over the entire previous year. Alan visited all the cattle buildings, store rooms and relevant machinery. He then wanted to see all cattle movement records, a note of and justification for every fertiliser application, qualifications of the tractor drivers and details of how our grain had been handled since harvest and even whether our combine harvester had been cleaned with just a hose or a power washer. He even tested our stock records by picking a weed killer at random and going to the store to check that we had exactly the amount recorded (which we did!).
So… we are pleased to announce that we passed this inspection with flying colours! This exam is a pass/fail and there are no grades, however, the inspector had absolutely no criticisms to give; a rare occurrence according to Alan. We hope this certification acts a reassurance to Hop Shop customers of our commitment to sustainable and ethical agriculture. We also hope that our customers will now look out for the Red Tractor logo in other stores and will favour those products which they know have been produced to these high standards. Find out more about the Red Tractor farm assurance scheme at http://assurance.redtractor.org.uk/.
By Farmer Crispin