19 March 1999

Non-food crop policy, says NFU

THE NFU has called for a new policy for non-food crops to be introduced under the reformed CAP.

Union president, Ben Gill, highlighted the importance of energy crops, such as short rotation coppice, when he gave evidence to the House of Lords science committee this week.

He said there was vast potential for the use of non-food crops as an alternative to fossil fuels and other finite resources, but farmers did not have the confidence to make the long-term investment.

Those growing non-food crops were relying on set-aside payments or Woodland Grant Scheme aid. A more robust mechanism was needed, he said.

Mr Gill added that the government should also give priority to introducing a policy to encourage the creation of new markets for energy crops and to issue clear policy guidance on renewable energy projects for planning officers.

The union is concerned that a number of biomass projects face difficulties obtaining planning permission. &#42

Big stores accused of bacon cover-up

By Allan Wright

SUPERMARKETS are not telling the truth about imported bacon, according to a report on the Scottish pig industry which calls for closer inspection of claims.

"The assertion that all the Danish bacon imported by the retail multiples is produced from stall-and-tether-free systems is incorrect. To meet the UK requirement, 30% of the Danish herd would need to be loose-housed. At present only 12% of the Danish breeding herd is housed in accommodation which meets the UK standard," the report states.

Commissioned by the Scottish Office and prepared by the SAC, the report says supermarkets are supportive of the home industry with a 100% British policy for pre-packed pork and with most sourcing 70% of bacon from home producers.

But there were areas where more could be done. Examples given include closer linking of farm gate and retail prices, demanding the same welfare and farm assurance standards for branded bacon as for own label supplies, ensuring such standards are being met on the farm of origin in exporting countries, and giving accurate country of origin labelling of the pigmeat content of processed products.

Farm assurance

The survey of six supermarket chains (Somerfield declined to co-operate) found only two labelling farm assurance. "That is because, in their opinion, the average UK consumer does not want to think about welfare farm assurance, or traceability, and entrusts those issues to the supermarket," the report states. Marketing logos like Charter Bacon were regarded by the supermarkets as being of limited use.

The home industry is urged to do more to meet the demands of the expanding catering industry, especially the need for larger carcasses. The development of new products targeted at the catering trade is also recommended. &#42


uFIVE major retailers, working with leading poultry processors, have agreed to develop a new industry standard label for poultry products. The new labels will provide information on the handling, storage and cooking of poultry. It is hoped the new scheme will help cut the number of food poisoning cases.

uCANDIDATES for the Welsh Assembly are to receive factfiles on the wildlife and countryside value of the constituencies they hope to represent. Compiled and published by the Countryside Council for Wales, the factfiles aim to help ensure that conserving wildlife, protecting the landscape and helping people to enjoy the Welsh countryside and coast are high on the candidates agenda.

uA FARM machinery ring in the north-east of Scotland has launched a recruitment drive because it cannot meet the demand for skilled farm labour from its 500 members. Bill Nicol, manager of Oldmeldrum-based Gordon and Buchan Machinery Ring, said there was a critical shortage of labour this year in the build up to spring work. &#42

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