Welcome opportunity for a beef

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The Independent Online
"Still eating British beef are you?" Peter Oldfield strode down Victoria Street asking the tourists gathered there to watch the Queen's procession to Parliament about their dining habits, writes Elizabeth Wyne.

There was really little reason for the 46-year-old Derbyshire cattle farmer to be smiling, but he was and brandishing a placard declaring "We're Backing British Beef."

Mr Oldfield is one of an estimated 3,000 National Farmers' Union members who made the trek into London to petition their MPs on the opening day of Parliament. Mr Oldfield and 40 other farmers from Derbyshire took the day off work - a day many really cannot afford - to tell their MP Patrick McLoughlin: "The cull isn't working, what are you going to do about it?"

Mr Oldfield's farm in the village of Carsington has been in his family for more than 400 years. Since March when the BSE scare began he estimates he has lost pounds 3,000 to pounds 4,000 and there is no end in sight. Mr Oldfield only has the capacity to house 100 cows. He has 114 and does not know when the extras will be able to be slaughtered.

There are 400,000 diseased or suspect cattle in the backlog of those waiting to be killed that has built up since the cull began in March.