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Survey puts farm assurance schemes under the microscope

Show of hands: Farmers called for changes to the ways assurance schemes are run.

Farmers who attended a meeting which voted for reform of Scotland’s farm assurance schemes have been invited to complete a survey.

A protest meeting in Aberdeenshire last month saw the majority of the 70 producers who attended call for changes to the ways schemes are operated, and now organiser Patrick Sleigh is keen to find out more about the issues people are facing.

Mr Sleigh has emailed the survey to more than 100 producers and is asking them to forward it to anyone who is interested.

Patrick Sleigh organised the meeting at Oldmeldrum.

The survey asks if producers are members of Red Tractor, LEAF, Lion Eggs, Quality Meat Scotland, Scottish Quality Cereals, the Soil Association, RSPCA Assured, the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) or others and calls for details of the experiences people have had with individual assurance schemes.

Mr Sleigh said: “We should have tackled this monster 10 years ago and I had hoped the farmers’ union would have taken it on.

“These organisations now need to listen to what producers are saying. They’re not in touch with their members and they need to change and be accountable.”

The survey asks if producers recognise schemes are important to securing consumer confidence and if they believe more transparency and democracy is required in determining how they are developed and operated.

Producers who attended the meeting  described their issues with assurance schemes.

Farmers are asked to outline the frustrations they have in complying with the various schemes, if they believe they contribute to securing a marketing premium, and how much time it takes to prepare for and conduct an audit.

Other questions include how much time does it take on average to correct an issue or issues if non-compliances are identified.

Farmers are also asked if they have suggestions on how to improve the audit process.

The responses to the survey will be analysed in the next few weeks.
Surveys can be obtained by contacting Mr Sleigh on 07711 838019

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