Wiltshire Council passes motion to proactively support local farmers

The vote passed with 70 councillors voting in favour of supporting Wiltshire farmers of all sectors
The vote passed with 70 councillors voting in favour of supporting Wiltshire farmers of all sectors

Wiltshire Council has become the latest local authority to vote in support of a rural campaign that seeks to proactively back local farmers of all sectors.

Councillors this week passed a motion ensuring that all catering at council-organised events is sourced from local suppliers, specifically including meat and dairy options, alongside fruit and vegetables.

It will also commit the council to being ‘vocal in opposing attempts to diminish the role our meat, dairy, and arable farmers play in our rural way of life’.

In addition, the motion also commits the authority to encouraging local residents to shop locally, where possible, taking advantage of home-grown produce, with an aim of reducing food miles to plates.

Following a debate in the council chamber, the vote passed with 70 councillors voting in favour and three abstaining.

The move comes after a string of other councils voted to ban meat and dairy items on council-catered menus elsewhere.

It also comes following protests and mass meetings in Wales and Scotland in response to growing concerns about several areas of agricultural and rural policy.

The council is the seventh in a matter of months to defy the vegan trend, after neighbouring Dorset Council voted to keep meat and dairy following a vote in December.

Speaking at the meeting on Tuesday evening, Conservative Cllr Nabil Najjar, who introduced the motion, said: “This motion sets up both a moral and practical position.

"It sends a very clear message to our farmers and food producers: Wiltshire Council is on your side”.

He added: “On the face of it, this motion is purely aimed at supporting farmers but the reality is that it goes so much further than that.

"This is a motion which empowers the custodians of our countryside, it is a motion which shows our support for the people who invest their time and money in retaining the natural beauty of our landscape and providing the food that we eat.

"It is a motion for those who enjoy the produce that our country delivers, whether its from those who buy it locally at farm shops or local markets, or even those who export it to wide audiences."

The motion received cross party support, with Liberal Democrat Cllr Paul Sample saying: “My father was a farmer, I grew up on a farm.

"I spent the first 16 years of my life looking after animals. I am delighted that this motion has been brought today and I fully support it, and am enthusiastic about it.

"When it comes to our food recipes, I’d really like to see the council working with the farmers on what constitutes a Wiltshire menu using Wiltshire produce and old Wiltshire recipes.”

The Countryside Alliance had urged all of Wiltshire’s 98 councillors, regardless of political allegiance, to vote for the motion.

Mo Metcalf-Fisher, director of external affairs for the group, said: “We are so pleased to see yet another victory in this growing rural-common sense revolution.

"We thank Nabil Najjar for getting this incredibly important motion through council, particularly as other councils are opting to ban meat and dairy."