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|Press Release: 12th June 2007|
Local food producers high on the agenda for CPRE
Members of the Campaign to Protect Rural England's Hampshire branch listened to a fascinating talk by Dr Malcolm Crabtree, Managing Director of the Leckford Estate, the Waitrose farm, after the charity's Annual General Meeting held at Sparsholt College recently.
Malcolm Crabtree explained to the audience how food is procured, the importance of local foods, the grocery market, and touched on organic food and food hubs. A great grower of food in his own garden, he emphasised the importance of supporting local food producers at Hampshire Farmers' Markets, as many farmers now rely significantly on these markets for their income.
The speaker was excited about the new generation of young food producers, who are adding much more value to their products, and drawing on better marketing with a focus on environmental credentials, health standards, conservation and animal welfare.
Overall, Dr Crabtree was keen to emphasise that local and regional food and drink have a very good future ahead of them. The supermarket chains were responding to public demand and were often taking the initiative in approaching producers. The average supermarket now stocks about 1500 regional and local lines. He said:
"Supermarkets like to give the public what they want - if you want organic they will do that - if you want local then the supermarkets will source local because of consumer pressure put on them and their developing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes."
Waitrose and other supermarkets are paying a premium price for milk from specialist and local dairy farmers, said Dr Crabtree and he hoped that this would underpin a viable price for dairy products:
"I do see the price increasing in the next year."
Sir Nigel Thompson, CPRE's national chairman, attended the AGM and he underlined the importance of local food production to the country's future food security. He welcomed the fact that CPRE's new national president, author Bill Bryson can be depended on to raise the profile of the charity's countryside campaigns nationally, especially to a younger audience. Sir Nigel also spoke about the worry of population growth in England in relation to housing plans, and told members that CPRE is putting pressure on at national level to debate this topic sensibly.
A short, colour presentation was also given by Edward Dawson, director of the South East region of CPRE, on the subject of the charity's work throughout the Examination in Public into the South East Plan. The talk is available on the charity's website at www.cprehampshire.org.uk.
- Ends -
CPRE/H/108Notes to editors
CPRE Hampshire strives to promote the beauty, tranquility and diversity of the countryside of Hampshire by the sustainable use of land and other resources in town and country, and encouraging the biodiversity and well-being of rural communities.
2007 is the Year of Food and Farming, launched by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in November 2006. The official news release on its launch can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2006/061129b.htm.
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