29 November 1996

What showgoers thought about it

FARMERS

William and Kate Allen, Alnwick, Northumberland, farming 90 sucklers and 1000 ewes:

"We are members of FABBL. Quality assurance schemes are a good idea, but complying with them doesnt seem to require much effort. The paperwork seems more important than the livestock.

"Although the large number of schemes is confusing, I feel a national scheme would be difficult to police. Regional schemes, with farmers as board members would be a better idea."

John Parsons, Dorset, milking 300 cows, and finishing 30-40 beef cattle each year:

"I am not currently a member of a quality assurance scheme – it hasnt been necessary up until now. However, I am likely to join one soon – I think it will become essential if you want to market beef.

"These schemes are a good idea for keeping consumers happy and will help if we have another industry crisis. But one national scheme would have more impact."

Michael Church, Cambridgeshire, running 100 pedigree Herefords, with 180 followers and calves:

"I joined FABBL this April through a marketing scheme and Midland Meat Packers. Theres no financial benefit, but anything which will help improve consumer confidence must be useful.

"One national scheme would ensure requirements were standardised. But the scheme must have teeth, and be enforceable. It must be backed by a food organisation rather than just the farming industry."

Cumbrian hill producer David Hall, running 500 Mule and Swaledale ewes and 75 mainly Limousin cross sucklers at 101ha (250-acre) Lanerton Farm, The Banks, Brampton:

"We joined the FABBL scheme about 12 months ago on the advice of our local mart, Borderway Mart Auctions, Carlisle. We only had to make minor adjustments to comply. The scheme gives consumers confidence that our meat is safe.

"But I am concerned that the recent proliferation of farm assurance schemes is diluting their message. Farm assurance is not for various outlets to secure a marketing advantage, it is for general assurance."

Jackie Handford: "I am not aware of any quality assurance schemes.

I buy all my meat in Safeway because I trust its products. If I knew about these schemes, I am sure they would give me more confidence in meat products.

But they need to be publicised in the consumer press, and in supermarkets. I think one nationwide mark

that everyone recognised would

be the best option."

Chris Evans: "I have heard of quality assurance schemes. I think they ensure the animal has nothing that affects consumers, and that its high quality. However, I do think they should be publicised in the national press. It would probably be best to have one scheme, which had an instantly recognisable mark – like the British Standard mark – for maximum impact."

Julia Lambert: "I do buy meat, but had no idea that quality assurance schemes existed – I have never heard of them. Im not sure whether they will help to restore public confidence in the beef industry – people just get carried away with panic and media hype. One national scheme or label would be best – then consumers would know what it meant." &#42