In his recent speech at the Bakers' and Confectioners' Exhibition at the Royal Agricultural Half Mr. Noel Buxton, the Minister of Agriculture, referred to the regulations for the application of the National Mark to all‐English flour, which will shortly come into force. For some years past competitions held in connection with the Exhibition have shown beyond question that bread and confectionery of the finest quality can be made of the flour produced from English wheat. The excellence of the home‐grown article has, in fact, been proved to the satisfaction of the best judges; and the Ministry of Agriculture consider that bakers and consumers, as well as the farmers who produce it, will stand to benefit by its more general use. It is, therefore, in the interests of all three parties that they propose to extend to English wheat the system of grading and standardization which has already been applied with marked success to other articles of diet, such as eggs, tomatoes, apples and pears, and cucumbers. So far as the farmers are concerned, everything that helps them to carry on the fight with their foreign competitors is advantageous to the nation as a whole, because it encourages them to produce more food, to maintain, and possibly to increase, the arable area of the country, and—a factor of real importance in dealing with the problem of unemployment—to keep more workers on the land. The more of his produce the farmer is able to sell, and—within limits—the better the prices he can obtain for it, the better will these ends be served. It is not, of course, to be expected that the public will invariably buy British in preference to foreign goods, simply because they are British. On the other hand, if they can be assured that they are of better quality than the same class of goods imported from abroad, then—as has been shown by the improved trade in British eggs since poultry farmers have been able, if they wish, to take advantage of the National Mark scheme—they are ready not only to make a practice of buying home‐grown rather than foreign produce, but also to pay higher prices for it. There are therefore good grounds for the expectation that the demand for English wheat flour will be improved by the definition of national standards of quality and the marketing of supplies of standard qualities under distinctive marks. The scheme for the voluntary grading and marking of this flour was introduced on October 1. A Trade Committee has been appointed to consider applications for permission to use the mark—a silhouette map of England and Wales—and all the flour bearing this mark will be sold under three standard grades and guaranteed as to type, flavour, and keeping quality. The designations of the three grades are All‐English (Plain), All‐English (Self‐Raising), and All‐English (Yeoman). All three are defined as being sound, free from taint or objectionable flavour, of good keeping quality, and unbleached by artificial means. The first and third are further guaranteed to be free from all added chemical substances, though the second may contain such ingredients, or mixture of ingredients, as may be required (under certain definite regulations) to make the flour self‐raising. The scheme is open to millers and other packers of English wheat flour, and every registered packer must allow his premises and all equipment and records to be inspected at any reasonable time by any officer of the Ministry of Agriculture authorized for that purpose, besides complying with other regulations the general effect of which is to make it impossible for any flour bearing the National Mark to fall below the certified standard of its particular grade. Mr. Buxton was able to say that the scheme is already receiving excellent support from the millers, and all that is needed to give it the success which it deserves is that the public should co‐operate by letting the bakers know that graded all‐English flour is what they want and expect them to use. It is in their power to create a demand which will provide them with a pure food of the highest quality, and will at the same time do the British farmers a much‐needed good turn.
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