CLINTON BONNER, Bonners the Butchers

We are a small family butcher in the fantastic county of Somerset, God's own larder. I may be naive but it has always amazed me why we drag meat from half way around the world when it's on our doorstep.

As an independent butcher, it must surely be our responsibility to support and develop the use of local British meat. The days of the cowboy butcher are behind us, and we must niche-market ourselves, so the customer demands, and should expect us to provide, the finest meat with the finest service and buy with confidence.

What crazy half-baked gem of EU foolishness can we look forward to in 2007, that will wind its way from Brussels as a little A5 memo and, by the time it has left London, will have turned into 900-page book that our over-stretched EHOs have to try and enforce?

Talking of which, how about the 24-month rule (bought in for political reasons rather than medical)? We are registered, because our size of operation has caused us to search for quality beef under 24 months, which, in some cases of native breeds, has not been finished to our standard and I am sure this situation will get worse.

Whenever possible, I like to buy my beef on the hoof. In my area I have a very good boning hall that will bone my beef from my network of local farmers, which gets over the 24-month rule. But I do not feel easy that a skill - and my control - is being removed.

I would love to see every independent butcher join the National Federation of Meat & Food Traders, then we might have some clout.

We sometimes take our eye off the ball and complain and moan about chicken going up by 3p/kg, then allow our electricity companies or banks etc, etc, to get away with daylight robbery! This year I will try to address this, so wish me luck.

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