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Country News - 2002

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Christmas turkey for the chop?
Wednesday 20 November 2002

THE BRITISH Christmas turkey dinner is under threat from rising imports and red tape, according to the National Farmers' Union.

As we approach the annual peak period for turkey sales, the union has launched a campaign to persuade consumers to ensure that their Christmas bird is British, rather than imported from some countries with much lower standards of animal care.

The NFU has conducted a survey which reveals:
  • There has been a 35% decline in turkey production in the UK over the last 10 years.
  • In the same period, the number of British turkey farms and processing businesses has halved.
  • The NFU estimates around 9 million turkeys will have been imported into the UK already this year, compared with none 10 years ago, accounting for more than a quarter of all UK turkey production.
  • Prices for turkey meat have been under severe pressure with producers experiencing price falls of up to 32% throughout the year.
The Buy British campaign is being backed by celebrity chef Rick Stein, who launched a "turkey hotline" which will give callers the address of the nearest farm selling fresh birds. A similar line last year is said to have created an extra £40,000 worth of extra sales.

The hotline number is 0870 060 3436. It will operate from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday until Christmas Eve. Calls are charged at the national rate.

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