The FIA identified that the global corporations, who had been undertaking certification services on an international level, did not necessarily focus on Scotland enough: FIA's aim is to support, develop and build on Scotland’s key credentials of truly sustainable food production that is climate-friendly and supportive of our unique rural environment.
The new service is a subsidiary of SAOS (the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society) who are leading consultants on farmer co-ops and food industry supply chain collaboration and development. It is this integration, and use of SAOS’s expertise, that will ultimately benefit farmers and producers.
FIA’s vision is to turn the time-consuming process of quality assurance into a streamlined and personalised service, offering combined audits where applicable for minimal disruption to the business and adding value through the use of sophisticated data collection and analysis supported by remote monitoring currently being trialled by SmartRural, another subsidiary of SAOS. Data has historically been collected once a year at audit, which means it is quickly out of date and does not always give an accurate picture of performance, or future indicators.
FIA is investing in sophisticated tech which will benefit all members without creating a discriminatory effect for those not technologically enabled.
Farmers want to see the benefits of assurance and we believe these can best manifest themselves in data capture technology. Monitoring the capability on a farm, using traceability and providing information back to farmers will allow them to make informed decisions and can be used to validate standards. If you are collecting information to demonstrate compliance to standard, could that data not be used to drive efficiency decisions on the farm?
This use of smart technology on the farm could also support FIA’s belief that Scotland is the most sustainable food producing nation in the world. Measurement leading to verification would change the narrative that Scottish food production contributes negatively to the environmental impact of greenhouse gas emissions and benefit Scotland’s drive to net zero.
Kathryn Kerr, of QMS, commented: “Despite the obstacles facing our nation’s food security, Scotland’s red meat brands have the potential to be part of the solution. We’ve started this process by listening to key industry individuals and levy payers as well as supporting the end customer and are developing a long-term plan.
“We are taking proactive steps to highlight the livestock sector’s contribution to the national economy and its levels of self-sufficiency in red meat. We’re committed to working with FIA with the aim of enabling the red meat industry to flourish economically, environmentally, and socially.”
Teresa Dougall of SQC said: “SQC are delighted to have FIA on board as our new Certification Body. SQC are currently working on a new five-year strategy with the aim of adding value to growers’ businesses by maximising cost effective access to multiple market opportunities. The supply chain is asking for reassurance and confidence that our certification demonstrates safe, traceable, environmentally responsible production of arable crops within Scotland. We are looking to FIA to help achieve this.”
With more scheme owners looking to collaborate with FIA – including the Wildlife Estates Scotland scheme and potentially the Scottish seafood sector – FIA is delivering a solution to future proof Scottish farming in ways that can add benefits around brand messaging and spearheading cultural change in response to PR challenges for the industry.
Stephen Sanderson, General Manager, Food Integrity Assurance