THESUSTAINABLE Development Commission has attacked the Little Red Tractor assurance scheme.

The commission said that the scheme failed to provide consumers with “an assurance that products marked with the logo were sustainable food products'”.

The commission also indicated that the logo had not set a standard that would encourage farmers to significantly improve their practices. In a new report, the SDC is recommending that a more ambitious approach is needed. It has called both for an improvement in the LRT standards and for an assurance scheme that helps the consumer identify food products that significantly exceed the current LRT baseline.

“We believe consumers are now looking for assurance schemes to set standards that are significantly above the legal minimum, that are properly regulated and inspected, and that are communicated to the public so people know exactly what they are paying for,” said SDC chairman Jonathon Porritt.

He added that the SDC would like Assured Food Standards to ensure consumers understand what the tractor logo signifies. He also called upon the government to actively encourage schemes and standards that significantly exceed the current standard, “not least to ensure that UK farmers do not lose out any more to imported produce that doesn’t even meet the red tractor baseline”.

 NFU president Tim Bennett said: “A lot of work has gone into the development of the logo, and more work is planned to develop it further. It is the best logo we have for promoting food produced to agreed standards that are independently inspected. The report from the SDC is a welcome addition to the process of developing farm assurance.”