I bought in some more Sussex steers last week, I hope I shall be as happy about this decision twelve months from now when the time comes to market them.
The beef price is dropping relentlessly and I hear a worrying report that a local farmer has had the price of his finished cattle slashed; they are under contract to Waitrose.
There is a lower demand for beef as consumers switch to cheaper sources of protein or buy imported cheaper meat, in an effort to reduce the cost of the weekly shopping basket.
Retailers which were flying the ‘Buy British Beef’ flag following the horse meat fiasco last year, are now importing cheaper beef once again, much from Ireland.
Some retailers are not making it clear to shoppers where the meat on their shelves is coming from, and it would appear that they have little interest in promoting or supporting the best of British.
The Farmers Weekly has recently visited stores and found: British and Irish meat mixed up on shelves below Union Jack signs. There were promotions where only Irish beef was available. And a promotion in Sainsbury’s labelled as British – but with Irish beef behind the sign.
Farm leaders have criticised Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s for not stocking 100 per cent fresh British beef, in contrast to some other big stores.
Farmers have had to move out of milk production as margins steadily decreased as the farm gate price for their milk dropped below the cost of production. The natural alternative has been to rear beef cattle or sheep, particularly on land not suitable for arable crops.
The British public, when asked, generally say they prefer to buy local, or at the very least British. It would be good to know that retailers did the same.
For those who care and wish to support British agriculture, when possible, should avoid buying meat from supermarkets which are not proactive in supporting British farmers and growers.
The high street independent butchers are on the whole very supportive, and those of us who can, should buy essential meat, fruit and vegetables from local farm shops.
This is where we can be confident that the meat we are purchasing is sourced from local farms. It is the farming community, not government quangos, which protect and manage the British countryside, and ensure it is protected for future generations. But we need to be confident that our businesses can remain profitable.
It goes without saying that British beef is the best, and I would go further and suggest that Sussex Beef cattle produce the tastiest beef of all. I would say that wouldn’t I?
The fallout following the European elections continues to rumble on. David Cameron was quite right when he said last week that Brussels was “Too big, too bossy and too interfering.” But what he has failed to grasp is that the British public think exactly the same about Westminster.
Swap bossy and interfering for ‘red tape and bureaucracy’, combined with a concern about the direction the country is heading, including immigration, and this goes some way to explain the public’s search for an alternative to Conservative or labour. Some have found this in Nigel Farage’s UKIP party it is plain to see.
Lord Ashcroft’s poll will make very uncomfortable bedtime reading for Mr Cameron. And any straw poll amongst those we know who voted UKIP last week will already know that most will do so again when they cast their vote in next year’s General Election.
Tony Blair is grand standing around Europe in the hope that his ambition to be EU President will be recognised and become a reality. In the unlikely event of this happening, this would be the final straw and Great Britain will run screaming for the Exit door.
I was interested to read that Peter Mandelson has always had aspirations to ‘Live a farming life’. He recently informed his readers that he has bought a property in Wiltshire next to a farmer, and is threatening to volunteer his services and help out on the farm.
However his thoughts are still on politics, and I wonder if George Osborne should be concerned to hear that Mr Mandelson has praised him for his success with the economy. This he attributed to ‘His political skill and determination, and being joined at the hip with Cameron’! He also said that had Blair and Brown had a similar relationship they would today still be in office. I think I will leave that thought hanging in the air, and allow readers to draw their own conclusions!
The wedding season starts this week at Ote Hall, and it is also the South of England Show. The forecasters were predicting rain but things are fortunately looking up. Hopefully the Show will have bumper crowds and our bride and groom will enjoy a perfect and memorable day of celebration.
Carola Godman Irvine