'Protected status' bid for West Country beef

Image caption To qualify for PGI status beef of lamb must have at least a 70% forage-based diet

A bid is under way to get West Country beef a "Protected Geographical Indication" status.

If approved under EU law, meat could be branded as "West Country" and promoted on the basis of the region's unique rearing.

This would provide a new opportunity for producers to brand their products as 'premium' and animal husbandry.

It would join celebrated names such as Aberdeen Angus and French favourite Charolais on menus across Europe.

Farmers, meat processors and retailers think a successful PGI could encourage consumers to buy their beef and lamb products specifically because they come from Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Cornwall or Devon.

'Naturally produced'

To qualify for West Country labelling under the PGI, the beef or lamb would have to come from stock born, raised and finished in the West country, and have had at least a 70% forage-based diet.

Paul Badcock, who has the Rospeath beef farm near Penzance, said: "People are always asking for local produce.

"It's what the public want, it's natural, it's reared outside, the public don't want factory farmed beef and we don't produce factory farmed beef here in Cornwall."

Sheep farmer Peter Baber, chairman of Meat South West said: "We are at a key stage in what is a very lengthy process - and would urge businesses in the region to let their views be known by joining in the consultation."

Mr Baber added: "Their comments will then form part of the case that is submitted to Europe for a final decision."

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