THE NATIONAL Beef Association and the Tenant Farmers Association have issued a joint call for 30m a year to fund a marketing strategy for British farming and food.

The call follows publication of British Agriculture Marketing”s report which recommends developing a strategy that promotes all British producers in major urban areas.

Government support will be needed because of the urgency of getting the strategy going, according to the report. “Core government funding should be provided for the next three years as the current industry structure will not deliver what is needed quickly enough,” the report concluded.

In addition, the NBA and TFA have called on the government to adopt the market-oriented intentions of CAP reform.

The report said that the government should relinquish control over areas of the marketplace to enable innovation and enterprise to flourish. DEFRA should also channel funding to new initiatives at the bottom of the supply chain, it added.

The report also attacked the existing levy body structure as totally flawed because it includes players from all parts of the food chain, some of which have no particular interest in marketing British produce to the consumer.

budgets to farmers

Levies should be voluntary and the way forward, the findings suggested, was to return marketing budgets to farmers to allow them to develop their own marketing activity locally and regionally.

The report also called for the introduction of clear country of origin labelling on fresh produce, spotchecks to be conducted in supermarkets and heavy fines handed to retailers or others found to be abusing the system.

Not enough has been done since the publication of the Curry Commission’s report in 2002 to reconnect farmers with consumers, according to the NBA and the TFA, who see the marketing strategy as a means of rectifying the situation.

They are confident that by being properly informed about the food on offer in the UK, British consumers will buy more British produce.

Responding Donald Curry told farmers weekly that he is broadly in favour of its conclusions, particularly the emphasis on the need to address the state aid rules and the issue of clearer food labelling.

“The report adds to the debate about how we ought to communicate to the public not only the value of our food, but also of the countryside, so that the value of the single farm payment is realised by taxpayers,” Sir Donald said.

paul.andersen@rbi.co.uk