By Matt Donald, pig & poultry producer, North Yorkshire
The recent news of three large supermarkets importing chicken from Poland which has been grown with antibiotics critical to human health, is an absolute kick in the teeth to UK poultry farmers. In recent years broiler growers have researched, trialled and invested in many ways to lower antibiotic usage and have done so extremely successfully, with a reduction of critically important antibiotics exceeding 97% since 2012, the industry has done an incredible job.
I’m a believer in standards and Red Tractor is important to monitor and uphold these, then we get the supermarkets with bolt on standards and extra inspections, which isn’t a problem either, if all suppliers are adhering to these standards. However, for poultry to be on the shelves available to consumers, produced using antibiotics which we have spent years reducing, is a failure in fairness by both the retailers involved and the government for monitoring it. Our domestic consumers trust UK farmers and they should be able to trust any food on the shelves or in freezers, are produced with minimal antibiotics and to the same high standards.
As the UK poultry industry faces some extremely difficult times with rising input inflation, interest rates and labour shortages, farmers still strive to optimise welfare and performance, I only wish consumers could be educated into what some supermarkets choose to import, to line their freezers with cheap chicken, in order to line their pockets with profit.
Rant over, I like to be positive, as I write this I look forward to going to the Great Yorkshire Show, where all things food and farming from both local and further afield is championed by some fantastic businesses across Yorkshire. The food hall is incredible to walk through, locally sourced, fresh, healthy and safe foods from all over the region, just like supermarket shelves should be. A great show to attend if you get chance another year!