Assurance schemes operate to guarantee that due care is taken of the environment, of food safety and of animal welfare. There is a variety of schemes, including in the UK stand-alone schemes such as Red Tractor, retailer schemes such as Tesco Nurture and specialist schemes such as Leaf Marque and Freedom Food. Alongside the standards there are protocols for farm inspections to ensure compliance. Whilst some schemes provide what we might call baseline levels of assurance i.e. demanding that farmers comply with UK legislative requirements, others do demand higher standards in particular areas. Notably, schemes such as LEAF Marque and Conservation Grade include additional environmental requirements and Freedom Foods demand additional animal welfare requirements.
We have reviewed schemes for a range of clients, appraising for example whether assurance scheme membership could be an indicator that farms are delivering national environmental objectives, and the extent to which schemes applied in the EU and the US (e.g. Label Rouge, Beter Leven, GAP 5-Step and Animal Welfare Approved) improve standards of farm animal welfare.