Curtis points up Cameron's NFU speech omissions

Stephen Curtis, chairman of ACMC, has written to David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party, about two omissions from his speech, delivered at the NFU's centenary meeting.

Stephen Curtis, chairman of Yorkshire-based international pig-breeding company ACMC, has written to David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party, about two serious omissions from his speech, delivered at the NFU's centenary meeting.

While Cameron acknowledged the crisis caused by the leak of foot-and-mouth (FMD) virus from the government-regulated Institute of Animal Health - the subsequent financial losses of many millions of pounds were not mentioned. These resulted from the ban on exports of meat and live animals, as well as the severe consequential losses following disruption of trade caused by movement restrictions within the UK.

Curtis also believes the fact that 50% of the food bought by government institutions is imported should also have been highlighted. The food bought by schools, hospitals, the armed forces and prisons is all paid for by taxpayers' money.

He accepted Cameron's suggestion that traceability and labelling should be enforced. Buying in meat products that didn't comply with Britain's high welfare systems meant that this country had simply "exported cruelty".

Commercial pig producers had lost money on pigs produced for the food chain almost every year for the last decade, due to the added cost of production (high British welfare standards), the strong pound (cheap imports) and disease (FMD 2001 and 2007) which was why the national pig herd had shrunk by 50%, said Curtis. This left Britain only 30% self-sufficient in pigmeat products. "Is this something we should be proud of?" he questioned.

Curtis said he agreed with virtually all Mr Cameron's points, but felt that these important financial points - which had a direct bearing on farming business - should be borne in mind by the opposition party.

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