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The best of British beef is celebrated in Parliament

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: May 14, 2014

  • Heather Wheeler MP with Angela Sargent

  • From left, Sherwood MP Mark Spencer, South Derbyshire MP Heather Wheeler, NFU deputy president and co-founder of Ladies in Beef Minette Batters and Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution Derbyshire chairman Angela Sargent.

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POLITICIANS and farmers met in Parliament to celebrate Great British beef.

The NFU event was part of the two-week campaign of activity led by Ladies in Beef, a group of female beef farmers.

The Great British Beef lunchtime reception was organised by the NFU's East and West Midlands' regional offices together with the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.

It was hosted by Mark Spencer, MP for Sherwood in Nottinghamshire.

It is the second year running that the institution has been the chosen partner for the beef week celebrations. Etwall beef farmer and the institution's Derbyshire chairman, Angela Sargent, is the face of the 2014 campaign.

Mrs Sargent, who farms 240 acres of land, said: "Great British Beef Week is all about supporting our wonderful product and the industry.

"I'm very proud to be a farmer and our product is the best, so we took that message to the heart of Westminster."

She added that the institution was an appropriate charity to partner with because increased pressures on the beef industry were leading many farmers to look for help and support.

She said: "Historically, the institution has supported retired farmers, but last year 25% of the people we supported were active farmers.

"With pressures on land, prices and the mental pressures of regulation, the institution's help is only going to become needed more."

Also in attendance at the event was North Herefordshire MP Bill Wiggin, himself a smallholder with nine pedigree Hereford cattle.

He said: "Beef is such a fundamentally British thing and it's important to celebrate a great product produced by brilliant British farmers in an environmentally positive way. What's not to like?"

One of the two founding members of Ladies in Beef, NFU deputy president Minette Batters, said that there were now more than 100 female beef farmers who support the campaign.

She added: "It was challenging to start with but, against the odds, Jilly Greed and I got this campaign under way.

"It's not just about promoting the eating qualities of beef – it's about showcasing what we do to look after the countryside."

Mark Spencer, MP for Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, said: "Let's keep pushing beef forward and not be afraid to say that UK beef is some of the highest welfare in the world. We should be proud of that.

"What's also important is that people realise that the countryside looks the way it does because of farmers' stewardship."

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson also attended the event, with farmers and MPs from the Midlands and representatives from the institution.

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