Suffolk County Council has agreed to pass a Conservative Party motion to support local farmers by ensuring all catering at council-organised events is sourced from them.
At Full Council yesterday (Thursday, October 19), the council committed to including meat and dairy options alongside plant-based produce.
53 councillors backed the motion, with three Green Party councillors abstaining from the vote.
This motion to back produce from farmers was proposed by deputy leader of Suffolk County Council, Cllr. Richard Rout, and seconded by cabinet member for public health and public protection, Cllr. Andrew Reid.
The motion aims to raise awareness of the importance of “hardworking farming communities” within Suffolk.
Cllr. Richard Rout said: “I’m delighted that this motion passed but it is disappointing that three Green councillors felt unable to support it.
“Coming from a farming family, I know first-hand just how hard our farmers and growers work to feed and sustain our nation. Agriculture and agribusiness are an integral part of our local economy.
“This motion not only commits us to doubling down on our support for local farmers but also ensures dietary choice at all our events, keeping meat and dairy firmly on the table alongside plant-based options.”
Suffolk County Council said many Green, Labour and Liberate Democrat councillors who are members of authorities such as Edinburgh City Council, Norwich City Council, and Oxfordshire County Council have angered their farming communities by signing the Plant-Based Treaty or banning meat and dairy from their buildings and events.
The council said the Plant-Based Treaty “shuns” the construction of any future livestock farm and promotes plant-based foods in schools and hospitals as well as pledging to prioritise vegan food over animal products.
Cllr. Andrew Reid said: “We in Suffolk are rightly proud of our fantastic farming community.
“Through our county farm estate, which spans over 12,000 acres and contributes over £7 million to the local economy, we have 90 agricultural tenants who do so much for our county.
“I was delighted to second this motion and reaffirm our commitment to this vital sector.”
Councils ‘turning their backs on farmers’
Director of external affairs for the Countryside Alliance, Mo Metcalf-Fisher, said: “We have seen a number of local councils turn their backs on farmers in recent years with puerile motions that ban meat and dairy consumption and effectively warn the public off eating it.
“Rural communities have had enough and are fighting back. If we were to lose livestock farming – as is undoubtedly the aim of those wanting to impose plant-based eating – our countryside would turn into a barren wasteland.
“Red meat produced in the UK is among the most sustainable in the world, and it makes every bit of sense for local authorities to encourage the public to play their part in fighting climate change by sourcing seasonal and sustainable produce from local farmers and growers – irrespective of whether its meat or vegetables.
“We hope all political parties support this motion. The countryside is watching.”