Farmers will have to upload records of antibiotic usage on to an online portal as part of proposed changes to Red Tractor quality assurance schemes.

The proposals, which are due to come into effect from November 2021, are for both the dairy scheme and the beef and lamb scheme.

The Red Tractor dairy scheme operates across the UK, including NI, whereas the beef and lamb scheme only operates in England. However, the NI beef and lamb farm quality assurance scheme has traditionally followed most changes that are introduced by Red Tractor.

The proposals require records of all antibiotic use on participating farms to be put on a new “medicine hub” which is currently being developed by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

Records for the full calendar year would need to be uploaded by April of the following year and the information would be used to monitor progress against targets for responsible medicine use in the livestock industry.

“Such data would provide a valuable evidence base with which to promote the high standards of production employed by our dairy, beef and sheep producers,” new guidance from Red Tractor states.

In 2017, the use of an online “e-medicine book” became a requirement for Red Tractor assured pig producers.

Farmers can give their views on the new proposals for the dairy, beef and sheep schemes through an online consultation which opened for responses this week.

Other changes

The other main changes proposed in the consultation mostly relate to farms that employ paid labour. Farmers will be required to have regular “recorded performance reviews” with staff to show that “training systems are effective”.

Also, all Red Tractor assured farms that employ staff will be required to have a written health and safety policy. At present, a written policy is only required in businesses that have five employees or more.