Wiltshire set to join growing number of councils defying plant-based movement

Numerous councils across England have passed motions pledging support for farmers of all sectors
Numerous councils across England have passed motions pledging support for farmers of all sectors

Wiltshire Council is set to join a growing number of local authorities who are defying the plant-based movement in a show of support for farmers of all sectors.

A campaign by the Countryside Alliance to push councils into expressing support for farmers while rejecting compulsory plant-based-only menus will be debated by Wiltshire councillors.

They will vote on a motion at a full council meeting on 20 February, which, if passed, will see food provided at its catered events sourced from ‘local suppliers’, specifically including meat and dairy.

The motion also commits 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’.

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 poised to become the sixth 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.

Suffolk, Cornwall, Portsmouth, Fenland, and North Northamptonshire Councils have also passed the motion.

In addition, the motion would also commit the authority to encouraging local residents to shop locally, where possible, taking advantage of home-grown produce.

Submitted by Conservative Councillor Nabil Najjar, it will also instruct the authority to support struggling farmers by being sympathetic to diversification opportunities and by promoting local produce through its new Wiltshire Marque labelling programme.

He said: “ I have brought this motion to the Council as a way of showing our support for our dedicated farming community at a time when many feel frustrated.

"Wiltshire has some fantastic local produce which we should be celebrating, and our excellent farmers, growers and land managers need to know that as a council, we have their back."

The Countryside Alliance, which spearheads the campaign, has urged all of Wiltshire’s 98 councillors, regardless of political allegiance, to vote for the motion “for Wiltshire’s hardworking farming community and the wider countryside”.

Mo Metcalf-Fisher, director of external affairs for the group, said: “Across the country we are seeing a change in the way people think about the food they eat and the way it’s sourced.

"While some councils have sadly gone the wrong way by implementing divisive and unnecessary bans on meat and dairy, Wiltshire is joining a growing number of councils who are fighting back and offering progressive solutions regardless of dietary preference."