Farmers condemn Asda backing out of promise to only stock British beef
Angry farmers condemn decision by Asda to back out of promise to only stock British beef after ‘significant’ surge in prices
- Retailer will broaden its fresh beef suppliers to include the Republic of Ireland
- Asda has stocked only British beef for past few months after pledge in October
- NFU’s Neil Shand lashed out at the decision, saying he was ‘deeply disappointed’
- And farmer Deborah Deymond, from Devon, described the move as ‘disgraceful’
Farmers have condemned Asda’s decision to back out of a promise to only stock British beef after what it describes as a ‘significant’ surge in prices.
The supermarket will broaden its fresh beef suppliers to include the Republic of Ireland after stocking only British beef for the past three months.
The move will apply to all ranges excluding its premium Extra Special tier, which will remain exclusively sourced from the UK.
National Farmers Union (NFU) Neil Shand lashed out at the decision, saying he was ‘deeply disappointed’.
It came despite Morrisons and Co-op reportedly saying they will stick to selling British beef, regardless of the price increase.
Asda will broaden its fresh beef suppliers to include the Republic of Ireland after stocking only British beef for the past three months (file photo of a store in west London)
Mr Shand told the BBC: ‘Our supermarkets need to support domestic producers as much as possible – now more than ever.’
Deborah Deymond, a farmer with a herd of 80 cattle in Devon, added: ‘I was so pleased to hear they had made the pledge in October but think it’s disgraceful they’re not supporting British farmers more.’
And the NFU’s livestock board chairman, Richard Findlay, was also disappointed in the decision.
He said: ‘Our beef is renowned for its quality and high production standards, and retail support plays a big part in enabling farmers to make further investments in climate and environmentally-friendly food production.’
An Asda spokesperson said: ‘Whilst we continue to work hard to keep prices as low as possible for our customers, these increases are significant.’
The retailer’s initial decision to switch to 100 per cent British beef last October came after it was slammed by farmers for stocking up on imported Polish beef in 2020.
In a statement, it added: ‘We know that it is important to our customers that the beef on our shelves has been produced to high welfare standards and is affordable.’
The move comes as the NFU expresses growing concerns about Britain’s food security, warning changing the use of agricultural land will damage the UK’s self-sufficiency and lead to increased imports.
The retailer’s move will apply to all ranges excluding its premium Extra Special tier, which will remain exclusively sourced from the UK (file photo)
The Government’s £2.4billion-per-year plan to replace the European Union’s common agricultural policy – called the ‘Sustainable Farming Incentive’ – was launched by Environment Secretary George Eustice at the Oxford Farming Conference yesterday.
Landowners will be paid to plant trees and restore wetlands and peat bogs on 741,000 acres of land under the largest farming reforms in 50 years when Britain joined the EEC.
But farmers say swapping fields of crops or cows for trees and bogs will make British food production a ‘dirty word’ and force smaller growers ‘off the land’ and out of business.
From 2023 the taxpayer will fund 15 large nature reserve projects of up to 12,000 acres across the UK plus thousands of other smaller projects. The ‘landscape recovery’ rewilding scheme will eventually cost £800million from 2028.
It comes as Environment Secretary George Eustice (pictured) is in the firing line from farmers over rewilding plans – but insists it will not hurt food production
When asked about whether the Government is complacent on food security – and more focussed on growing nature than produce – Mr Eustice said: ‘I don’t accept that at all’, saying that every three years there is a legal requirement be a review of UK food security.
He said the one from last year found that the country was around 76% self-sufficient and produces more milk and lamb than we consume, and soft fruit and chicken is going in the same direction.
He added: ‘We want to plant 10,000 trees every year and 300,000 hectares to be restored to their natural condition. That needs to be looked at in the context of the fact that we have over 9million hectares of agricultural land in England. It is a relatively small percentage – around two or three per cent – that might go to some land use change.
‘If you look at where our food production comes from, there is not a direct correlation with land area. So 60% of agricultural output comes from just 30% of land. And in areas such as pigs and poultry, where he have seen a growth in self-sufficiency, they don’t use very much land at all’.
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