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Willie Thomson
Combinable Crops Committee Chair

To contact Willie, please email david.michie@nfus.org.uk

What Is The Point Of Farm Assurance?

Farm assurance can be a real hassle. You have to sort out paperwork before an inspection, it takes time away from important jobs, and then you have to sort out any non-compliances. Is the hassle worth it?




Although the benefits are not always immediately obvious, NFU Scotland firmly stands behind the principle of farm assurance. It maintains confidence across the supply chain from farm to fork. It enables market access. In some cases, it can give you a competitive advantage. If all farm assurance bodies disappeared today, a whole new bunch would spring up tomorrow. And they might not want to listen to the farmers.

But just because NFU Scotland are firmly behind the principles, it does not mean we won’t work on your behalf to minimise bureaucracy and over-reach. As Combinable Crops Committee chair, I am responsible for influencing SQC on behalf of our members.

We do a lot in the background with SQC to avoid ‘gold-plating’ and duplication. We make sure our members’ voices are heard, with SQC standards and scheme management frequently discussed at combinable crops committee meetings. And we have a WhatsApp group that rapidly raises members’ concerns. A recent example was a duplication of inspections by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and SQC. This led to an immediate discussion between SQC and FSS, and they are now working together to address this.  

NFU Scotland has two Combinable Crops Committee members sitting on the SQC board, while the SQC Chair (Andrew Moir) sits on NFU Scotland’s Combinable Crops Committee. David Michie (NFU Scotland’s cropping policy manager) regularly engages with Teresa Dougall, SQC’s Managing Director.

Addressing members’ concerns is not always straight forward. A possible change is welcomed by some members, but not others. Inevitably there will always be some who are unhappy. Sometimes a simple solution to address a farmer concern can have unintended consequences. As an example, standardising schemes sounds great, but if one farm assurance body (for example, Red Tractor) changes its standards, then SQC would be forced to also change to stay ‘standardised’.

Of course, addressing concerns through scheme standards is only half the story. On-farm inspections are the other half. And the half you mainly see. NFU Scotland are always willing and ready to listen to members’ concerns about inspection and certification. We welcome Food Integrity Assurance (FIA) as the new certification body for the SQC scheme and look forward to working with them on your behalf in future.

Willie Thomson



Crops Policy Blogs

SASA informal consultation response on seed potatoes

Contracts

IPM Plan

Horticulture Working Group Chair: Iain Brown

Potato Working Group Chair: Mike Wilson

Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF) Open for Applications Until 24 June

24-05-2024

The Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF) aims to promote skills development and knowledge transfer in the primary agricultural sector A...

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Consultation on Fairer Food Labelling

08-05-2024

NFU Scotland (NFUS) is the leading agricultural organisation in Scotland. ...

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Tier 4 Consultation Submission

01-03-2024

NFU Scotland (NFUS) is the leading agricultural organisation in Scotland Representing more than 8,000 farmers growers and crofters our members provide...

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Cereal Survey 2019

Click to download the 2018 Harvest Results

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