Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Wednesday, October 27, 1999 Published at 04:29 GMT 05:29 UK


Buy British, urge UK farmers

NFU president Ben Gill will launch the Great British Food Brand

The National Farmers Union is joining forces with supermarkets to encourage shoppers to "buy British", as the beef row between the UK and France rages on.

The union will launch the "Great British Food Brand" at a conference to be addressed by Agriculture Minister Nick Brown.

NFU president Ben Gill said it was vital that British products were associated with food safety and better quality.

He told BBC Two's Newsnight that this, combined with clear labelling, would increase much-needed sales for British farmers.

But he said competition from cheap imports meant many farmers were going out of business, and called for a "major change in pricing policy ... in the next few weeks".

[ image: Several supermarkets are supporting the NFU]
Several supermarkets are supporting the NFU
The NFU, which says it represents most farmers in England and Wales, decided to promote British goods after a survey of 1,000 adults contacted at random.

It concluded that British shoppers want to buy British food, and 87% of people associate it with quality. But it said they often have difficulty in recognising it on supermarket shelves.

Asked to compare British food with the products of what the NFU calls "its principal foreign competitors - France, Germany, Thailand and Brazil", the UK was seen as top notch for safety, kindness to the environment, and animal welfare.

Jill Rawlins, from Somerfield supermarket, told Newsnight that "every effort would be made to support British farmers".

But she said a "careful equation of quality and price" had to be weighed up.

The campaign is the latest twist to the trade row started earlier this month when France defied EU law by maintaining its ban on British beef, saying it was still not safe from "mad cow disease".

Farmers' protest

It ignited on Monday night when French farmers in tractors blocked the freight terminal of the Channel Tunnel in Calais for two hours.

The blockade was a "symbolic protest" at a boycott of French goods by many British stores angry over France's hostility towards British beef.

The boycott was also prompted by revelations that French farmers have used human sewage in animal feed.

Prime Minister Tony Blair told his French counterpart Lionel Jospin on Tuesday that the ban on British beef was illegal.

But in a further sign of the worsening situation, the French agriculture minister Jean Glavany announced he was cancelling a planned visit to Mr Brown.

UK farmers are now planning to picket an education authority which buys French chicken, and French demonstrators in Calais are threatening fresh blockades of British goods.

The Conservative leader, William Hague, said the prime minister should "stick up for Britain" and ban imports of French meat.

But the government's scientific advice has concluded there is no immediate public health risk from French meat.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

27 Oct 99 | Europe
Farmers blockade Channel Tunnel

26 Oct 99 | Europe
Stakes high in cross-channel trade war

25 Oct 99 | UK Politics
UK rejects French meat ban

25 Oct 99 | UK Politics
MEP's beef protest falls short

25 Oct 99 | Education
Council bans French meat from school meals

25 Oct 99 | Europe
Analysis: France faces legal challenge

22 Oct 99 | UK
The beef between France and Britain

24 Oct 99 | UK
Food labelling to be tightened

23 Oct 99 | Europe
France warned over animal feed

23 Oct 99 | Scotland
France 'risks BSE crisis'

Internet Links

UK Ministry of Agriculture

Meat And Livestock Commission

National Farmers Union

European Commission

French Ministry of Economy (in French)

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online