NFU and HTA divided over new Red Tractor scheme

Proposals to introduce a one-size-fits-all quality-assurance scheme for ornamentals and edibles possibly using the Red Tractor logo have split the NFU and HTA, with the consultation deadline due today (31 October).

The initiative by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is gauging support among levy payers and the food industry on investing in a broader quality-assurance system.

The HTA said levy-payer money should not be used to fund generic promotional and quality schemes which have no relevance, value or use to ornamentals production.

HTA director general David Gwyther said the use of the logo for plants and flowers would not help sales. He said levy money should be spent on productivity, innovation and environmental legislation.

He added that he supported the BOPP certification scheme, which does not promote itself to the end consumer because plant producers have no control over quality once the product arrives at the retailer.

HDC chairman Neil Bragg said: "It is not appropriate at this time for HDC levy money to be diverted away from critical R&D, especially when there is increasing pressure on the levy money as centralised funds for R&D continue to be reduced."

NFU president Peter Kendall said the consultation was a "golden opportunity" for the industry to send a "loud and clear message" of support for a common system.

The AHDB board is to decide on an action plan on 17 November.

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