Approaching unity - a first for the industry

At last, we seem to be moving into what, hitherto, has been uncharted waters in other words, unity. To see that 13 major trade associations that cut across the farming and processing sectors have got together takes us, hopefully, into a new era. The very fact that it has happened reflects the perilous state facing both sectors (and others) as the Food Standards Agency ratchets up its quest for full cost recovery.

There is very little more I can say on this subject and matters relating to abattoir legislation, veterinary presence and so on that I haven't said over the last 20 years or so.

Just one point to make, though. I wholeheartedly applaud and endorse this new-found unity. However, the open letter sent to Secretary of State Caroline Spelman indicates, from your leader, that the emphasis of their concerns revolves around the financial implications that is, the money. Of course, affordability is the ultimate deciding factor on whether a business survives or fails that fact will never change. But I believe this is the wrong place to come from initially. There is an issue of facts, truth, science and technology to put before the British public before we start arguing about the money. To do that would turn public opinion against us and that is what the Food Standards Agency would dearly love to happen. Better to expose the realities and myths of veterinary and meat inspection in the production of fresh meat from abattoirs first and have the courage to explain ourselves in that debate (please refer to www.tobybaker.com under "technical data" number 5 meat inspectors).

It could be that my concerns are covered in the open letter.

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