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MP launches Back British Beef campaign to support industry

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 28, 2013

Steve Gilbert MP on a tour of the St Merryn Foods factory in Roche, with director Paul Hughes, to launch his campaign to Back British Beef Picture: Emily Whitfield-Wicks

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A Westcountry MP launched a campaign yesterday to lobby the Government and retailers to make policy commitments to back and support the British beef industry.

Stephen Gilbert, MP for Newquay and St Austell, spoke of how the red meat industry was worth millions of pounds to Cornwall as he took a tour of supplier St Merryn Foods near Roche.

The Liberal Democrat met with company managers of the firm, which had been operating in the area for 25 years, to discuss the challenges for the industry and its importance to the local economy.

Throughout the campaign, which is being run alongside a similar effort from the National Farming Union, Mr Gilbert said he will be working with the Government to adopt policies that support the industry.

He said he would also be lobbying retailers to commit to sourcing British beef; and promoting a conscientious purchasing culture amongst consumers to increase awareness of the source and supply chain.

He said: "I'm launching a campaign to Back British Beef to make sure the contributions of those involved in the sector are recognised, respected and rewarded properly.

"The red meat industry is worth millions to Cornwall and thousands of people are employed in getting food from the farm to our fridges.

"There's no better place to launch this campaign than at St Merryn Foods .

"The company has provided beef and lamb produce to Tesco stores nationwide, employing over 320 local staff and bringing millions of pounds of investment into the heart of Cornwall, for 25 years. Over the coming months, I will be lobbying government and retailers to support the industry through both policy and purchasing commitments.

"We all benefit by supporting locally sourced British produce – we get a product we can trust, whilst protecting jobs and seeing continued investment in our communities."

The British beef industry contributes £2.8billion to the national economy, and employs 440,000 throughout the supply process.

Ranjit Singh, CEO of 2 Sisters Food Group, the parent company of St Merryn Foods said: "As British's agriculture's biggest customer, we are proud of the role we play in securing a future for the farming industry and helping it to develop and grow. 100% of our meat is British sourced, so we are naturally one of the biggest supporters of the Back British Beef campaign. We welcome Stephen Gilbert's visit and his backing for such an important industry to Cornwall."

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  • miniman1  |  August 28 2013, 1:23PM

    Congratulations on promoting British meat. But isn't it a bit hypocritical of Stephen Gilbert to promote "buy British beef" while encouraging European immigrants into the Uk who are exploited by companies like St Merryn Foods who employ them on zero contract hours and poor working conditions, at the expense of our own Cornish workers. Should we take this a bit further and promote ALL British products? Farmers continually encourage us to buy British, but how many British made tractors, cars or machinery to you see as you pass the farm gates.

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  • rozel  |  August 28 2013, 12:31PM

    Very interesting that belatedly a politician is urging support for British, should I add Cornish, beef rather than continuing to focus on badgers which have been a subject of political indecision for decades. I believe support for beef is too late having regard to the cost and quality of British beef which is in so many cases is "factory farmed" with the use of growth enhancing products and antibiotics to enhance profit margins not taste. The present day product is in no way comparable with the aged Devon bullocks that were produced by the likes of Hubert Olver of Collon Farm, Lerryn in my earlier days. The upshot is that where I now live aged Argentinean beef is a far tastier product than British, Irish or Scottish beef so perhaps the politician should direct Cornish beef to the likes of McDonalds where cost , rather than quality, is of prime import.

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  • Barri  |  August 28 2013, 11:42AM

    This desperate attempt by a crass and incompetent meat industry is doomed to fail. Wise Consumers are giving up meat and reducing dairy product. Badgers are more important.

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  • emurfitt  |  August 28 2013, 11:24AM

    Launched on the day the badger cull began. Crassly insensitive. The yawning gap between farmers and the rest of society gets bigger by the minute. This is the MP that voted for the badger cull AND the 1% cap on welfare benefits which plunged the poorest people into hardship, debt and grinding poverty. Let the voter bear this in mind at the next election.

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