Cumbria should cash in more on its unique brand – boosting farmers’ fortunes.

Calls are growing for food and drink producers nationally to promote Made in Britain branding more clearly, particularly post-Brexit.

But, drilling down further, there are hopes that producers – among them an increasing number of farmers with niche products they sell direct to market – better promote the county of origin.

And that, supporters say, could bring real rewards for Cumbria, with its growing reputation for the quality of its food and drink.

As part of British Food Fortnight, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has called for mandatory food labelling, which it believes could offer post-Brexit UK food producers and farmers a unique selling point by providing consumers with clear welfare labelling.

Its leaders are backing the Labelling Matters campaign, which demands mandatory labelling of meat and dairy products.

Calls to better promote where food and drink comes from comes as thousands of people prepare to celebrate the best of Cumbrian produce this weekend.

More than 80 producers will be part of the huge Taste Cumbria festival in Cockermouth tomorrow and Sunday.

It has become a key date on the county’s calendar for promoting some of our finest produce.

Festival chairman Andy Walsh owns The Coffee Kitchen and The Coffee Kitchen Bakery in Cockermouth and is a vocal supporter of local producers. He said: “Clear and accurate labelling of our food is becoming increasingly important to the consumer.

“We want to know where our food comes from and we want to know that it was looked after to certain standards. But, further than this, I think that people have a real interest in local food.

“Having a labelling system that would declare that a product was ‘Made in Cumbria’ would be a huge selling point.

“We have such a diversity of great food producers in the county that I’m sure that such a scheme would be popular. It connects our food to the land, which can only be a good thing.”

In the drinks sector, a growing player in promoting the county is the Lakes Distillery, based at Bassenthwaite.

Maria Duddin, its business development manager, said: “We are proud to create spirits with true Cumbrian provenance.

“We have built a destination and a world-class award winning recognised brand attracting a global audience on site, online and through our export pursuits.

“We are proud of our Cumbrian roots and placing Cumbria on the map globally and locally.

“Our clients are keen to see provenance and understand the ethos behind all of our products wherever they are in the world.

“Branding of ‘Made in Cumbria’ would assist us all to drive our business’ and inform our clients exactly what they want to know.”

The BVA believes that clear labelling would answer peoples’ key questions about animal health.

Legislation for mandatory method of production labelling has been implemented already for shell eggs, which must legally be labelled either as “eggs from caged hens”, “barn eggs”, “free range” or “organic”.

Labelling Matters wants to see this principle extended to meat and dairy products from other farmed animals.

Evidence shows that consumers in the UK and across Europe want clear food labelling with information about animal welfare:

BVA president Sean Wensley said: “For vets it’s a top priority that the animals we rear for food have a good life and a humane death.

“Research shows that vets are not alone in caring about where their food comes from.

“Mandatory method of production labelling would give unambiguous information to the high numbers of consumers who care about animal welfare when buying meat and dairy products and help ensure market support for British farmers who pride themselves on achieving the highest welfare standards.”