SIR, – It would appear to me that assurance scheme providers across the farming sector are again illustrating just how out of touch they are with our farming industry.

These providers, who appear to be unaccountable to anyone, are looking more and more like an enormous gravy train, with Red Tractor's latest scheme planned for launch later this year, while the very admirable Farmers For Action (FFA) group is being approached by NFU and NFUS members branding this consultation as a sham! The worst of it all is that it is us, as farmers, who are paying for this. Surely, we must react and work together to stop this situation escalating any further?

Assurance scheme providers have had ample opportunity to simplify their schemes, especially when most consumers are really not very interested with the present laws already in place to protect consumers. Most years, about 16m people from the UK travel the world on holidays, cruising etc and all eating wonderful food from all over the world, with no Red Tractor, QMS etc and it doesn't seem to worry them.

Presentation on the day makes all the difference whether it's food, livestock, machinery, or cars and any other goods.

When a supermarket gets caught selling the wrong food, they have a professional spokesperson saying lessons have been learned, retraining has been given, practices have changed ... etc, etc, etc.

Sadly, they are never forced to close down and get kicked out or severely reprimanded, yet assurance scheme operators can do exactly this to their farmer members, instead of working collaboratively with their members and with the industry.

These organisations ought to employ a far more common-sense (many would not know what that word means) approach rather than create the type of 'broken needle' policy which they then choose to implement.

Seriously, you do wonder who and what committees within their organisation dreams up some of this stuff! Have they nothing better to do with their time?

I have a better proposition for these people: They should try the hard graft of practical farming for themselves so that they can witness and experience how challenging it really is out here in 'The Real World'.

Patrick Sleigh

West Fingask,