Friday, December 6, 2019

Changes to ‘Safe Haven’ seek to support growers

November 6, 2019 by  
Filed under Crops

Red Tractor is examining industry feedback on proposed changes to its Safe Haven Standards seed potato assurance scheme.

New standards added to the scheme cover areas such as water use, storage best practice and traceability. The strengthened standards mean the scheme will also cover brown rot and epitrix on top of the existing coverage of ring rot and dickeya.

The changes were the subject of a six-week consultation to ensure they are fit for purpose. The consultation ended last month – although the standards were originally introduced after a ring rot outbreak in England and Wales in 2003 from seed sourced from the Netherlands.

The scheme was subsequently widened to include dickeya. It has been largely successful at protecting UK seed stocks from these diseases with some 60% of British certified growers by area now operating under the Safe Haven initiative.

New standards

Following an initial survey to gather feedback from growers earlier this year, Red Tractor worked with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Fera Science and the James Hutton Institute to updated the current scheme, adding eight new standards.

Red Tractor technical manager Vicky Smith said: “All Red Tractor Schemes are regularly reviewed to ensure they offer the best protection for growers, and thanks to our survey we have identified a number of key ways we can strengthen these standards.

“While the standards have served the industry well the world does move on, and the potato sector is no different, we need standards which can cope with the changing environment, with political issues like Brexit, and of course, climate change.”

The new standards include closer monitoring of water use and storage. There is also a new standard for growers to have systems in place that ensure traceability of all seed and ware crops on farm.

In total, the scheme has 24 standards, which focus on avoiding and managing risk of contamination. These cover plans and procedures, seed classification, ware classification, water use, hygiene, transportation, machinery, grading and packing, farm visitors and storage.

While there are eight entirely new standards, some existing standards have also been updated to ensure clarity, particularly around the audit process. Red Tractor says the new standards should not be onerous as many farms already have procedures in place.

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