A Westcountry MP will launch a campaign to Back British Beef today during a visit to a meat supplier in mid-Cornwall.
Stephen Gilbert MP will introduce the constituency and parliamentary campaign, which will be run in partnership with the National Farming Union (NFU) at St Merryn Foods' red meat site at Victoria, Roche this morning.
The Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell and Newquay will be given a tour of the site, which supplies locally sourced beef and lamb produce to national supermarket chain Tesco, and be introduced to some of the 325 local staff employed on the site.
He will then meet with company managers to discuss the challenges facing the industry and its importance to the local economy.
"The beef and red meat industry is a vital economic contributor for Cornwall and other rural communities. Everyone benefits by supporting local produce", said Mr Gilbert. "I'm delighted to be launching my campaign at St Merryn Foods – they are a fantastic local business which contributes a huge amount to our community.
"Over the coming months, I will be working with the whole industry to call on government and retailers to Back British Beef."
It was estimated in a report by the National Farming Union last year that the UK beef industry generates £2.8billion a year, providing in the region of 440,000 jobs in England alone.
The thrust of the campaign launched by Mr Gilbert will be to support the British beef and red meat industry with a focus on its importance to the local economy, in terms of employment and commercial investment.
It will also focus on the promotion of sustainably sourced food from a known supply chain to protect quantity, which is seen as particularly important following the outbreak of the horsemeat scandal earlier this year.
Its primary objective is for supermarkets to make a commitment to sourcing British beef, as well as promoting the supply chains to the consumer, with St Merryn Foods seen as a good example of industry success.
As part of the campaign, Mr Gilbert is planning a number of different visits and events over the autumn and will be signing an NFU charter supporting it.
Mr Gilbert's efforts tie in with a campaign launched by the farming union earlier in the year encouraging consumers to purchase food produced on British farms.
Speaking earlier this summer, NFU beef group chairman Andy Foot said there had never been a better time to be a British beef farmer but there were challenges still to overcome.
He said: "We are keen to put more British beef on British plates but for this we need confidence that all areas of the supply chain will work together to both minimise and share the risk for the primary producer. As farmers we need to use this confidence to improve profitability, assess our costs and ensure we are running an efficient business.
"At a time of tight supply, it's also vital that we are all making best use of the beef that is available."