Farm assurance schemes : can they improve farming standards?
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to consider the global activities, highlighting the UK, concerned with farm assurance schemes and associated food labelling seeking to identify their contribution towards improving primary production standards. Design/methodology/approach – A desk study focusing on published literature and historical documentation. Findings – The majority of primary production standards are based upon codes of good practice with only tenuous links between the standards and the required environmental outcomes. Owing to the difficulties of comparing like with like here is little conclusive evidence that such standards are producing environmental benefits. Practical implications – If it depends on assurance schemes to improve farming practices then a European-wide standard is required that is not compromised by variations in national laws and codes of practice. Originality/value – This review is of academic value and of value to those working to improve primary production standards. It presents arguments for introducing environmental outcome based measures into the UK assurance schemes.