In today's Western Morning News there is an excellent article by Anthony Gibson, communications director of the National Farmers Union. He writes about Foot and Mouth disease in Brazil and the lower standards re beef production over there. It is not that there is a problem everywhere in Brazil, far from it. It is the fact that in parts of that huge country standards of traceability, welfare and veterinary medicine control simply aren't up to the standards that we insist on here.
For instance a delegation from the Irish Farmers Association found numerous instances of tags having been ripped from the animals' ears when they visited Brazil earlier this year. One can surmise that these beasts could have come from F & M areas. Then again Brazilian farmers are supposed to vaccinate against F & M and hold certificates to that effect. Incredibly they get the certificate on purchase of the vaccine and no one subsequently checks that they have used it!
Anthony reckons that most of the Brazilian beef imported into the UK finds its way into the catering market. Some does go to the supermarkets but he points out that those buyers do check out where they are buying from. I'm not a great fan of supermarkets but think they are pretty responsible these days in knowing about the provenance of their imported foods. An increasing number of pubs and restaurants in Devon and Cornwall are sourcing much of their food locally and are rightly making a virtue of this. I would much rather make occasional visits to such establishments even if I had to pay a little more than go more regularly to a restaurant in a big chain where you haven't a clue about where the food has originated.
If all this wasn't enough to search for food grown or reared in our own country think of the environmental pluses. A reduction in food miles for a start. And then anything that can be done to lessen the massive reduction of the Amazonian rain forest has to be welcome. Another thing seldom mentioned is that by helping our local farmers by purchasing their products we are helping to retain the glue that keeps our communities alive and kicking. There are millions of people who enjoy the look of our man made and influenced countryside who don't pause for a moment to realise that it's farmers and other landowners who have both made it and keep it that way.
So it's down to the EU now to follow the example of the USA, Japan, Australia and New Zealand and ban imports of Brazilian beef until their standards come up to ours.