Defra minister pulls out of export dinner at last moment

Defra minister pulls out of export dinner at last moment

New Defra Secretary of State Owen Paterson made a less than auspicious impression with a British trade delegation this week when he decided to pull out of the St George reception organised by EBLEX, which was timed to tie in with the Sial food exhibition in Paris.

The minister cut short his visit to return home after the UK Government announced it was to postpone its controversial badger cull until next summer.

Owen Paterson MP

There was disappointment that the minister did not attend this important occasion.

Mr Paterson has taken a keen interest in the cull, even before his move to Defra and despite his promise to attend the dinner, and to be involved with other events, he headed home to deal with the fallout expected from farmers because of another last minute Government U-turn.

The trade dinner was staged on the Monday evening of the Sial event and entertained French meat importers serving them British roast beef.

Meat exports to France have taken a tumble this year after a good year in 2011. One member of the British delegation told Meat Management: “It’s very disappointing that the minister did not attend this important occasion. We have been making good progress with exports to France but the market this year has been under pressure. Frankly, getting export business for Britain is much more important than the badger cull controversy in my view, but it seems our new minister is more interested in politics than in backing British export initiatives.”

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