Farmer Focus: Chris Harrold

A LOCAL FARMER taking part in a BBC Radio Five Live broadcast recently asked Rural Affairs minister Alun Michael: “Isn’t it time the government allowed us to label food products so the customers can make a choice about whether to buy our products or those from other shores?”

His response was that labelling was a question of requirements and added: “I won’t deny that farming has gone through a period of pressure and great change. The farming industry around the world is doing away with the sort of controls that we have had in the past, but we need to be able to compete.”

The issue of food labelling is one I feel very strongly about and must be addressed by the government as they, and only they, can influence the processors and supermarkets alike. What is the NFU doing? The Little Red Tractor, good, yes but not enough on its own. All food must display the country of origin clearly with a flag of the respective country or some easily identifiable mark.

Take “Smoked Scottish Salmon” and “Scottish Smoked Salmon”. Only one is Scottish, the other can come from anywhere. Closer to home is Broadland Hams, the bacon and ham curers. Very good it is too, but the name would imply ham from the Norfolk broads. I was horrified to learn that not all their pork is British. The consumer is being misled, badly.

How can the government expect us to compete when all they do is continue to make more and more red tape, and impose welfare and production standards as high or higher than anywhere in the world, which add costs to our commodities. We’re exporting our industry, why can’t they see it? Look at the pig industry for example, the farmer interviewed on Radio Five packed up a few years ago; we’re still in, just.

Addressing the above issues alone won’t put us right but would certainly go a long way towards it.