Second council votes to resist anti-meat and dairy trend

The council's motion urges residents to take advantage of "home-grown, affordable, nutritious food", including meat and dairy
The council's motion urges residents to take advantage of "home-grown, affordable, nutritious food", including meat and dairy

Councillors in Northamptonshire have voted in favour of a ‘fight back’ motion as part of an ongoing effort to block anti-livestock farming sentiment seen at several other councils elsewhere.

The motion will ensure the authority’s commitment to local farmers by proactively encouraging residents in the county to "shop locally."

The motion also urges them to take advantage of "home-grown, affordable, nutritious food", specifically citing meat and dairy, as well as plant-based produce.

It was passed overwhelmingly earlier this week at a full meeting of North Northamptonshire Council in Kettering,

The move comes after councillors in Cornwall voted for a similar motion last month, in defiance to several motions passed at other councils across the country.

These motions encourage residents to buy plant-based produce in a move away from meat and dairy, while also committing to only source vegan options for councillors at events.

Northamptonshire's motion, submitted by Conservative councillor Scott Brown, passed almost unanimously.

It commits the East Midlands authority to "work in partnership with our arable and livestock farmers to ensure their ability to enhance our magnificent countryside."

It goes further, adding: "We need to strive to support them by being sympathetic to diversification opportunities, including the promotion of local produce.

"Elected members will be vocal in opposing excessive regulation by central government, enabling them to prosper."

Opening the debate on Thursday (22 June), Cllr Brown said: "Let’s not beat around the bush here, Farmers have had it tough for a long time now and are still facing incredible difficulties in maintaining a viable business.

"This motion, if passed today, will give the many farmers and rural communities across our green and pleasant land, the confidence that this council is on their side."

He added: "In the face of numerous divisive and unnecessary anti-livestock farming motions elsewhere, this policy represents an inclusive, positive alternative which fundamentally recognises the significant contribution our farmers make to the countryside.

"Crucially, it demonstrates the importance of supporting local producers, cutting the distance travelled from farm to plate.

"This is vital in cutting down on mileage and emissions and doesn’t involve bashing those farmers who produce meat and dairy or impose any one diet."

Green Party councillors attempted to amend the motion to remove reference to meat and dairy, as well dropping the call for elected members to "be vocal in opposing excessive regulation" but failed to mobilise cross-party support.

In the end, there were 35 votes for Cllr Brown’s motion, 9 against - consisting of Green and some Labour councillors - and two abstentions.

In 2021, Oxfordshire County Council sparked outrage among farmers, including Jeremy Clarkson, when it passed a motion to ban meat and dairy at its events.

At the time, the council justified the policy saying it was "in the interest of the health of our planet and the health of our people".

"It has also sponsored a taxpayer funded website, urging people to adopt a plant-based diet to help “slow climate change, rein in habitat loss, and regenerate the health of our planet."

Three councils, Edinburgh City Council, Norwich City Council and Haywards Heath Town Council in Sussex, have also signed up to the ‘Plant-Based Treaty’.

This calls for an end to the construction of any future livestock farm and pushes plant-based food in schools and hospitals. It also includes a pledge to promote vegan food over animal products.

Enfield Borough Council also removed meat from the menu of its catering service in 2020, while Cambridge City Council will transition to a fully plant-based catering for council meetings by 2026 and promotes vegan food options at civic and external events.

The Countryside Alliance, which supported Cllr. Brown’s motion, said the result demonstrated that a ‘fightback is underway’.

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the group said: "There is simply no justification for any local authority to undermine farmers by imposing draconian policies that ban or prohibit meat and dairy consumption.

"It’s not only an attack on freedom of choice, but completely illogical and could have dire consequences for our countryside.

"We thank all those councillors in North Northamptonshire for helping us fight back. We are urging other councils to follow suit."

Cllr. Scott Brown added: "North Northamptonshire is pleased to join Cornwall in standing up for our local farmers in the face of hostility elsewhere.

"I hope that councils across the country follow on from the result here and introduce similar pro-farming measures elsewhere."