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Farm assurance is product certification for agricultural products that emphasises the principles of quality assurance. The emphasis on quality assurance means that, in addition to product inspection, farm assurance schemes may include standards and certification for traceability, production methods, transport, and supplies.
All farm assurance schemes claim to ensure high standards of animal welfare, although there is great variation in the requirements that relate to how animals should be kept and cared for.
In the United Kingdom and Australia, the major farm assurance programmes are based on a quality management system for food safety that originated with the US space agency NASA, known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). In these and other countries, assurance is underpinned by principles and standards for good manufacturing practice (GMP), good agricultural practice (GAP), good hygienic practice and good trade practice.
Examples of farm assurance schemes include:
- organic certification
- The Non-GMO Project, a US organization whose Product Verification Program certifies products that follow best practices to avoid GMO contamination
- Red Tractor mark, a UK quality assurance programme for animal products and crops
- Freedom Food, animal welfare assurance from the RSPCA
- Grainsafe, Indiana-based programme
- IKB (Integrated chain control system), Netherlands programme
- the Australian dairy industry's range of HAACP-based programmes
In 2004, 65% of United Kingdom farm production was farm assured, and by 2006, £6 billion worth of food was packed annually under the United Kingdom's Red Tractor farm assurance mark, including over 90% of the country's pig and dairy production.
Some farm assurance schemes are given legal force, either by use of trademarks or by oversight by government regulators of agriculture and food standards. While mostly associated with food production, farm assurance can be applied to other agricultural products, such as textiles, flowers, tobacco and biofuels.
In order to obtain farm product certification, assurance may be required for farm supplies. For example, the UK's Red Tractor scheme is supported by assurance programmes for fodder (UFAS, FEMAS) and fertiliser (FIAS).
Other quality standards
Other widely used agricultural quality standards are based entirely on product inspection, and do not rely on other aspects of quality assurance. One example of such a programme is the United States Quality Standards for grading, certification and verification: the USDA beef grades depend on physical attributes of the meat, plus the age of the animal.
- Certified Naturally Grown
- Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points
- Quality Assurance International
- Soil Association
- "Farm Assurance factsheet". UK: Institute of Grocery Distribution. 2004-12-07. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
Over 78,000 farmers and growers in the UK are farm assured, accounting for between 65% and 90% of output in the main commodity sectors...Farm assurance is now one link in a chain of assurance, which covers areas such as agricultural inputs (e.g. feed); transport and processing.
- "Farm Assurance Schemes & Animal Welfare: How the standards compare. 2012. Executive Summary" (PDF). Compassion in World Farming. 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- "Industry information: Food safety and regulation: Dairy Food safety". Dairy Australia. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- "THE CERTIFICATION STANDARD" (PDF).
Annex 4 sets out the seven principles of HACCP
- Krieger, Stephanie; Schiefer, Gerhard. "ANALYSIS OF THE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION LEVEL IN DIFFERENT QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS IN THE AGRI-FOOD SECTOR" (PDF). EFITA 2003 Conference, 5-9. July 2003, Debrecen, Hungary. University of Bonn, Germany: 619.. “The basis for any quality system is good practice, especially good manufacturing practice, good agricultural practice, good hygienic practice and good trade practice.”
- "Read about AFS". Red Tractor Assured Food Standards. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
- "Press release: RSPCA: Freedom food - record numbers are looking for the logo". RSPCA via Politics.co.uk. 2008-07-14. Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
- "Grainsafe". Indiana: Purdue University. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
- "SFFS Indicators - 1.07 Farm assurance schemes (data sheet)". UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
- "Trade assurance". Agricultural Industries Confederation. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
- "The Assurance of Animal Feedingstuffs – A Brief Outline". Product Authentication International, a certifying body. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
- "Grading, certification and verification: USDA Quality Standards". USDA. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
For example, Beef quality standards are based on attributes such as marbling (the amount of fat interspersed with lean meat), color, firmness, texture, and age of the animal, for each grade
- Luning, edited by P. A.; Devlieghere, F.; Verhé, R. Safety in the agri-food chain. Wageningen, The Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-76998-77-9. OCLC 60375200.
- UK Farm Assurance Factsheet from the Institute of Grocery Distribution
- Farm assurance statistics from the United Kingdom government
- Food certification and assurance schemes – Food Standards Agency
- Freedom Food – UK scheme from RSPCA
- Red Tractor Assured Food Standards – umbrella programme for several major UK schemes
- Inspection & Grading - What Are The Differences? – Fact sheet from the United States federal Food Safety and Inspection Service
- ed. G.I. Johnson... (2000). Quality Assurance in Agricultural Produce. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. ISBN 0-642-44939-2. (125 papers presented at the 19th ASEAN/1st APEC Seminar on Postharvest Technology held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from 9 to 12 November 1999. PDF downloads.)
- "HACCP at the Farm Level – The Missing Link in Food Safety & Security" (PDF). 2004.
- Krieger, Stephanie; Schiefer, Gerhard. "ANALYSIS OF THE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION LEVEL IN DIFFERENT QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS IN THE AGRI-FOOD SECTOR" (PDF). EFITA 2003 Conference, 5-9. July 2003, Debrecen, Hungary. University of Bonn, Germany: 619.