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Liz Truss leads delegation to Farming Minister on behalf of Traditional Hereford breeders

Imogen Eagle, Maxwell Eagle, Mark Spencer MP (Farming Minister), Liz Truss MP (South West Norfolk), Les Cook (Chairman of the Traditional Hereford Breeders’ Club) and Fabian Eagle

Former Prime Minister and South West Norfolk Conservative MP Liz Truss today (Thursday 14th March) led a delegation of breeders of Traditional Hereford cattle to meet Farming Minister Mark Spencer calling for Original Population (OP) Herefords to be reinstated to DEFRA’s Breeds at Risk Register.

The delegation included South West Norfolk residents Fabian, Maxwell and Imogen Eagle, who have a herd of Herefords at Swaffham, and Les Cook, Chairman of the Traditional Hereford Breeders’ Club.

They expressed their concern that the omission of Original Populations of native UK cattle from the Breeds at Risk Register compromises the protection and preservation of important genetics represented by Original Populations of many breeds, noting their numerical vulnerability in the event of a serious disease outbreak resulting in a contiguous cull.

Traditional or Original Population Herefords can trace both parents directly back to the closing of the Hereford Cattle Society Herd Book in 1878. These cattle are identified by an asterisk in the Herd Book and are a numerically small percentage of the breed - approximately 5% of pedigree registrations.

Les Cook, Chairman of the Traditional Hereford Breeders’ Club, said: “Our club members are concerned that the unique genetics represented within their herds must remain recognised by government when applied to decisions made during disease outbreaks and for the purposes of recognition under farming support schemes.”

Fabian Eagle added: “The absence of the Original Population Hereford from the Breeds at Risk Register puts owners at a financial disadvantage compared to other native breeds of similar status. This is why we have asked the minister to consider all the available evidence to support Traditional Hereford breeders.”

Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, also a former DEFRA Secretary, said: “I am pleased the Farming Minister will be giving this issue due consideration and hopefully ensuring that the Traditional Herefords have the recognition they deserve. The Eagles’ herd is a fantastic asset to South West Norfolk and I want to see it thrive for generations to come.”

Liz with Fabian Eagle and some of his Herefords
Imogen and Maxwell Eagle with some of their Herefords at last year's Royal Norfolk Show

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