While I welcome the comments made by Tesco’s chief executive to the National Farmers’ Union conference that, in light of the horse meat scandal, his company will now source more meat from UK suppliers, I found such comments a little hard to take.
Let us not forget it was the big supermarkets’ relentless pursuit of cost reductions under the disguise of globalisation and their drive for increased profits that have resulted in this scandal in the first place. One cannot help but feel this is like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. And to judge by the supermarkets’ track record to date, in all likelihood the costs associated with this change of policy will be immediately passed on to the consumer. Here in Pendle, following confirmation that Lancashire County Council has supplied horse meat to a number of unsuspecting schools across the borough, it is clear that if the county council had had such a policy then it would not have got itself in to the mess it has. It is clearly high time LCC adopts a policy to source school food produce from local suppliers, including meat from local farms.
Before the increased cost argument is advanced, let us take a look at the possibilities. If LCC were to enter into long-term partnerships with local suppliers, giving them certainty of supply and long-term security, perhaps that would allow the suppliers to invest in modern farming methods and new technology helping them to increase their productivity which in turn would keep any cost increases to a minimum.
In addition to improving the quality of produce supplied to our children, such a policy would have the advantage of recycling taxpayers’ money into the local economy, supporting and sustaining local jobs. You never know, it may even help create jobs in what is arguably the most important industry of all.
Labour Candidate, LCC, Pendle West