by Countryside Alliance

The Countryside Alliance has criticised comments made by the Welsh Minister for Climate Change, after she suggested people should only consume meat on “high days and holidays”.

The comments, which were made by Labour’s Julie James MS, were picked up as part of a wider discussion about climate change and biodiversity and reported by Wales Online.

She said: “Personally I’m a lifelong vegetarian but there is nothing wrong with eating meat but we just have to be eating it as a high days and holidays type of thing.”

The Alliance has suggested that Ms. James “reflect on her comments” and “on the implications” it could have for Welsh livestock farmers.

Mo Metcalf-Fisher a spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said: “ The question should never be about when a person chooses to eat meat, but crucially where that meat comes from. As we discuss issues around climate change, Ministers need to draw clear distinctions between the industrial farming systems used in other countries and the mainly grass-fed systems in Britain. We need lawmakers to fly the flag for local produce and to shout about the environmental benefits of consuming sustainable, locally sourced meat as part of a balanced diet.

“Livestock farmers already face daily challenges and we would ask that the Minister reflects on the implications of these regrettable comments and how they are likely to be negatively perceived by our hard working farming community, who do so much to protect and preserve our beautiful countryside.”

UK farmers are renowned for their high standards of production and the industry has been clear that it aims to farm in as climate friendly a way as possible. The National Farmers Union (NFU) has already set the ambitious goal of reaching net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the whole of agriculture  in England and Wales by 2040.

Other Members of the Senedd have also hit back at the comments.

Sam Kurtz MS, the Welsh Conservative Shadow Rural Affairs Minister Sam said: “The Minister’s comments show a complete lack of understanding of the importance of meat as part of a balanced diet and how it underpins our agricultural and rural economy.

“Farming is the backbone of the Welsh economy, creating tens of thousands of jobs from the field through the supply chain to high street butchers, but these comments show the industry is expendable to the Labour Government.

“Tackling climate change needs public support and economic sense. Understanding this and working with the sector and not against, is the only way positive progress can be made.”

North Wales Hill farmer Gareth Wyn Jones tweeted: “Not sure politicians should tell us what to eat . We all can make that decision to keep ourselves healthy in what we eat.”

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