AHDB granted permission to support Red Tractor Scheme

The European Commission has granted State Aid approval to a promotion scheme for the Red Tractor logo. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has welcomed the decision as a “significant milestone”, pointing out that State Aid approval was a prerequisite before levy funds could be used to support the Red Tractor scheme.

State Aid rules are strict and insist that promotion of origin is secondary to quality.

AHDB chief executive Kevin Roberts said: “This EU approval has come through sooner than expected which is tremendous news.

“We now have legal authority to use levy funds to promote the Red Tractor scheme. This means we can get down to the serious task of sorting out the details of AHDB’s financial support for Assured Food Standards (AFS); we will also work with AFS to help shape it to meet the challenges ahead.“

Colin Smith, chairman of Assured Food Standards, said: “We are delighted that State Aid has been approved to fund the promotion of the Red Tractor scheme. With minimum investment to date, the retail sales value of the Red Tractor logo has risen by 60% over the last three years and now appears on over £8bn-worth of products.

“With new funding from the AHDB, we will be able to invest further in increasing consumer awareness of Red Tractor assurance by delivering a strong message about the quality and standards of production in the agricultural and horticultural industry, which the Red Tractor logo stands for.”

NFU President Peter Kendall said: “This news will enable AHDB, and some of the levy money, to fund essential promotion of the Red Tractor and, with it, the great quality products from our farmers and growers.

“It is vital that our agricultural and horticultural products, which are produced to high, independently inspected standards, are able to be distinguished in the marketplace by the Red Tractor mark.”

With State Aid approval having an immediate effect, AHDB sectors have the flexibility to start using the Red Tractor Logo within their existing marketing plans during this financial year.

Roberts added: “AHDB is entering its strategy and budget planning period, so decisions on sector funding contributions behind Assured Food Standards can be factored into this process, along with any potential promotional use of the Red Tractor Logo in sector marketing work.”