17 April 2000
Farmers slam MMP meat comments

By FWi staff

FARMERS have condemned comments by one of Britains biggest meat processors, who said he didnt give a damn where his company bought its beef.

The remark was made by Shawn Baker, head of production at Midland Meat Packers, during a recent farmers meeting at Daventry, Northampton.

He said: “The pace of change in the beef industry is so huge and we are supplying retailers with low cost as the main issue, so to be honest we do not give a damn where the product comes from.”

Farmers and others in the industry e-mailed FWi to voice their concern at the comments, which were reported on the site last Friday (14 April).

William Lidgate from Iver, Buckinghamshire, said British producers should consider stopping sending their livestock to Midland Meat Packers (MMP).

“IF MMP wish to source beef from abroad, that is their right in a free market, but they should not then be allowed to pass it on as British.

“Producers should consider refusing to supply MMP until they can guarantee that the product is resold untainted with foreign produce.”

Andrew Hawkins, from Simonsbath, Somerset, said Mr Baker should resign for making the comments which show that the meat industry is in a mess.

“Midland Meat Packers now need to kick [Mr] Baker into touch, to give both consumers and farmers a clear sign they are a reputable and trustworthy firm.”

John Hardwick, from Fownhope, Hereford, said he was “absolutely disgusted” by Mr Bakers comments which he described as distasteful.

“I have been totally committed as a director of Marches Quality Meat for over four years trying to establish a local label for quality product,” he said.

“I find Mr Bakers comments most distasteful and unhelpful to an industry that is struggling though a very difficult period.”

Fred Henley, from Seaton Ross, York, summed up the thoughts of many within the industry with a concise response.

“Buyers should care where their meat comes from,” he said. “If it is a case of buy cheapest, UK farming is finished and so is food safety.”