DAVID HANDLEY WESTERN DAILY PRESS AUGUST 17
Shame and disgrace are about to be heaped on the name of Handley, as things stand.
Unless I can provide a vital piece of evidence I face being ejected from the Red Tractor accreditation scheme to which I have been persuaded it is in my best interests to subscribe for some years now.
In view of the recent history of failures by companies who proudly fly the flag and brand their goods with it you may by now be asking yourself of which heinous breach of the regulations I have been guilty. Keeping my animals short of feed? Allowing them to go lame or generally failing to give them adequate veterinary care?
None of the above, I am happy to say. No, my failure relates to the absence of a piece of paper certifying that my milking machinery is all up to scratch. It is, because I’ve had it inspected and checked. But I haven’t yet been sent a written clean bill of health for it.
And because I can’t produce that I have been put on 28 days’ notice of being de-Red Tractored. I am confident it will turn up in time and I fully accept that he Red tractor organisation must take a firm line with individuals like me because rules are rules and if people don’t adhere to them then the whole scheme is at risk of losing all credibility.
Though perhaps to that should be added ‘depending on how big your company is, of course’.
If it happens to be called Moy Park then clearly there is another set of rules, however. One which says that you will not be instantly removed from the scheme even if thousands of chickens are allowed to die during a heatwave, so throwing into question Red Tractor’s entire validity as a badge denoting high animal welfare standards.
And another which says that even if video footage is released showing birds being raised in the most appalling conditions of squalor at three other of your units then you will only be temporarily suspended from the scheme while you are given time to clean up your act.
And a third which says that should you be called Moy Park and have such devastating bad luck befall you as to unwittingly allow chickens to die from heat exhaustion then Red Tractor will immediately assume the rule of defence Counsel, arguing on your behalf that that could happen to anyone, particularly during a heatwave.
Meanwhile telling the world that it has a ‘zero-tolerance’ attitude to such things, a statement which, under the circumstances, not only exposes Red Tractor to universal ridicule but is so much at odds with the facts s to make it appear an utter lie.
As is the case when it claims to have ‘robust processes in place to carefully monitor the conditions for our birds’. Well, they might be ‘in place’ – but they clearly weren’t being exercised here.
Meanwhile I must assume that, equally, Red Tractor has similar robust processes in place to ensure every dairy farmer is using a milking machine which has been comprehensively inspected to ensure it is working properly – though the fact that the cows stand at one end and milk still appears from the other end could be accepted in any court of law as circumstantial evidence that mine is.
And if, when requested, I am unable to produce within the stated period of 28 days the required documentation to support that evidence then indeed I must expect to be sanctioned according to a ‘zero-tolerance attitude’.
You might well take the view, having read all the foregoing, that Red Tractor operates dual standards: one for the small business, another for the bigger players in the game. I could not possibly comment.