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  • by Trevor Loveday

Activists file greenwashing complaints against farm assurance scheme, Red Tractor

Environmental activist group, River Action has filed three complaints to the Advertising Standard Authority against agricultural assurance scheme, Red Tractor, accusing it of assisting “greenwashing on an industrial scale.”

According to River Action, agriculture is “one of Britain’s most environmentally destructive industries.”And the group said it had “a strong body of evidence” that Red Tractor’s advertising, website and YouTube content were “misleading consumers about the environmental standards with which its assurance scheme purports to guarantee compliance.”

Red Tractor claimed its farms take “a preventative approach to protect the environment, and animal health and welfare.” And it says they minimise the use of pesticides and herbicides, and other plant protection products and that it requires its farms “to have stringent pollution and soil management strategies".

But River Actin has asserted that “Red Tractor-assured farms do not meet high levels of environmental protection and in many cases do not even comply with legal minimum standards.”

River Action has cited a 2020 Environment Agency assessment which its said “revealed that Red Tractor Assured farms were responsible for the majority of instances of agricultural pollution over a five-year period.”

And it said the report concluded that Red Tractor farms were less compliant with EA inspections compared to non-Red Tractor farms which led to Red Tractor’s application for the EA’s Preferred Status being denied.

Chairman of River Action, Charles Watson, said: “Intensive agriculture is one of the single biggest polluters of our rivers – particularly in the major livestock sectors such as dairy and poultry production. The products of these polluting industries cram the shelves of all our supermarkets and in many cases they carry the logo of the Red Tractor certification scheme.

“We are resolved to call out this greenwashing, which appears to be happening on an industrial scale similar to that of the agricultural malpractice that hides behind it.”


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