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Red Tractor to ‘reconsider’ advertising plans after AHDB pulls plug on funding

Red Tractor says the funding cut will affect its advertising plans.

Red Tractor says it is having to “reconsider” its advertising plans after levy body AHDB pulled the plug on annual grant funding to the farm assurance organisation.

The body, which covers farm assurance for a range of products including dairy, fruit, vegetables and potatoes, typically receives £250,000 in funding from AHDB every year.

However, AHDB has stopped its funding of the assurance body and in a statement the organisation said: “The AHDB board decided it was no longer appropriate to provide this annual seed corn funding as Red Tractor is financially established and self-sustaining.”

AHDB chairman, Nicholas Saphir, said the levy body would still consider providing funds to Red Tractor for specific work or projects that are deemed to “add demonstrable value to levy payers or help levy payers to reach agreed standards”.

He added: “In addition, where there are issues, AHDB will continue to ask the tough questions and use its independence and evidence-based approach to facilitate the finding of solutions between Red Tractor and its’ stakeholders.

“For example, AHDB has been raising questions and encouraging parties to come together over the current levy payer concern around grain imports and whether the controls in place for imported grain provide the same levels of assurance and clarity as those of Red Tractor for English product.”

Red Tractor assurance covers a range of products, including strawberries.

A Red Tractor spokesman said AHDB’s decision was disappointing.

He added: “Regrettably, the AHDB’s funding decision means we will now need to reconsider our advertising plans, which we understand will come as a disappointment to farmers and the wider food supply chain.”

The National Sheep Association (NSA) backed AHDB’s decision and the association’s chief executive, Phil Stocker, said other assurance and certification schemes had never enjoyed levy support.

He added: “For lamb producers it is questionable that all levy payers should contribute financially to one assurance/branding scheme when only circa 40% to 50% are actually members of it.”

Mr Stocker said the NSA backed AHDB’s plans to ballot all levy payers in Spring 2022 over its planned activities for the future, and added: “NSA would like to encourage all sheep farmers who pay the levy to register to vote on this now and be prepared to take part when the vote opens in the Spring.”

AHDB pledges to put levy payers in charge of its destiny

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