9 April 1999

Survey reveals poor labelling

LABELLING on almost 15% of 570 meat products analysed in a MAFF food survey was found to be inaccurate.

Products sampled included burgers, sausages, pies and ready-meals and 83 were found to contain, in varying amounts, meat from species not declared on the label.

Junior farm minister Jeff Rooker warned that manufacturers who failed to label products correctly must take steps to ensure their processing operations were properly controlled.

Details of the inaccurately labelled products have been passed by MAFF to the relevant local authorities. &#42

Pig producers may join lorry protest

HUNDREDS of pig producers are threatening to join angry lorry drivers in a mass demonstration aimed at bringing central London to a standstill on Monday.

An estimated 1500 farmers and their vehicles are preparing to join up to 2000 lorry drivers in a slow moving convoy to protest against government policies.

Both groups of protesters claim government action is putting them at a serious disadvantage compared with overseas competitors.

The lorry drivers say they cannot compete with European hauliers because last months Budget increased British fuel costs by more than 6%.

Pig producers, meanwhile, want to continue to highlight the welfare systems enforced in the UK that are not in place elsewhere.

The protesters intend to drive around the perimeter of Hyde Park, jamming the roads and causing chaos to commuters and tourists. &#42

Wages help-line

MAFF has launched a new help-line (0845-0000134) to help employers and employees understand the new minimum wage.

"This service will ensure that workers get a fair wage and that employers understand the rules and regulations involved," said junior farm minister Lord Donoughue.

In agriculture, casual workers are now guaranteed the national minimum wage of £3.60/hour while the Agricultural Wages Boards basic rate for adult workers is £4.26/hour. &#42

Access partnerships on way

THE Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is pioneering a partnership approach to access to the countryside which might become a model for the Local Access Forums planned by the government as part of its statutory right to roam legislation.

Legislation

The park authority, which had hoped the government would favour a voluntary approach to access, is disappointed that ministers have, instead, decided to introduce legislation.

But it has decided to press ahead with the further development of its Dales Access Partnerships which bring together landowners, farmers, environmental organisations and outdoor user groups to agree sustainable access opportunities.

National park officer Heather Hancock said the partnerships would provide new access opportunities, protect sensitive environments at certain times of the year, and recognise the genuine concerns of those who worked and owned the land.

"We welcome the governments recognition of the importance of local discussion and agreement and believe the partnerships will provide a model and test bed for the proposed local forums. If they are found to work in the Yorkshire Dales, then surely they offer a constructive way forward for the rest of England and Wales," she said.

New initiatives

The authority has also approved proposals to develop new agricultural initiatives to help cash-strapped farmers in the dales. They include the branding of dales produce, help in identifying the potential for farm tourism, and contracting the services of farmers for maintenance work. &#42