THE LITTLE Red Tractor scheme has been heavily criticised for being a poor champion of basic animal welfare standards and of very little relevance to the general public.

In his speech, Jonathon Porritt, chairman of UK Sustainable Development Commission, questioned the usefulness of the logo to the consumer.

He said its only benefit was to inform the public that some imported goods were of a poorer quality.

“The little red tractor only requires producers to meet the basic requirements of the law and yet it proclaims to have animals reared to stringent standards,” he said.

“The government has an obligation to explain to consumers why Britain has higher standards.

“Assumptions that answers will find their way to consumers by one production standard or another are wrong,” he added.

Mr Porritt told the audience that the failure of the government to do more to inform the public of the benefit of higher welfare standards was at the detriment of Britain‘s farmers. 

He also urged caution before further increases were made in animal welfare, citing the effect on the pig industry when forced to accept improved welfare measures during the 1990s.

Commenting on Lord Whitty‘s speech earlier in the day, Mr Porritt praised the emphasis placed on the environment by DEFRA when finalising the details for the single farm payment.

He described the final agreement as a “triumph for common sense”, but said that DEFRA must continue to keep food production at the heart of any future rural development policy.

He welcomed the current rural development strategy saying “for too long has this country not done enough to develop sustainable methods of energy production”.

“The first priority now must be to get the biomass strategy sorted out,” he said.

Other issues such as supermarket buying mentality were derided, “Tesco‘s mantra is a little disingenuous to farmers,” he said.

“Best value doesn‘t always mean lowest cost as many dairy farmers will be able to testify,” he said.