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Cornwall Council set to resist anti-meat and dairy trend in pledge to back local farmers

The Countryside Alliance has thrown its support behind a motion before Cornwall Council, which if passed, would see the authority commit to ensuring that all food provided at council meetings, including meat, dairy and vegetarian options, is sourced from local suppliers.

The landmark motion would demonstrate the council’s commitment to local farmers by proactively working to encourage residents to ‘shop locally’, urging them to take advantage of ‘home-grown, affordable, nutritious food’, irrespective of dietary preference.

Submitted by Conservative councillor Nick Cracker (Liskeard) and seconded by Cornwall’s Portfolio holder for Environment and Climate Change, Martyn Alvey, it recognises the ‘huge contribution made by [our] local farmers to the Cornish economy and its rural communities’.

It adds: ‘ Cornwall Council commits to developing stronger partnerships with our arable, livestock, and dairy farmers in order to enhance our magnificent countryside. The Council will strive to support farmers, by being sympathetic to diversification opportunities and promotion of local produce’.

The move comes in the face of several motions passed at other councils across the country, which encourage residents to buy ‘plant-based’ produce in a move away from meat, while also committing to only source vegan options for councillors at events.

Oxfordshire County Council sparked outrage among farmers in 2021, 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 health of our planet and the health of our people’.

However, the council caused further controversy, when a councillor tweeted a picture of the first ‘vegan meal’, complete with exotic fruit and vegetables transported in from across the globe.

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

Speaking ahead of the full council meeting on May 23rd, Cllr Nick Craker said: “ Agriculture makes a significant contribution to our local economy, providing many jobs and opportunities for our rural communities across Cornwall. Domestic food production is of national importance, as is the important role agriculture has to play in protecting and enhancing our environment and ecology.

“As a Councillor I want to ensure the Council is fully playing its role to support our local farmers. Whether that be sourcing our meat, dairy and plant-based produce locally or by making sure farmers are not forgotten in new policy development. It’s a tough industry that’s come under huge pressure in recent years, but it’s vital in Cornwall and for Britain. Councils should be making sure they are doing everything they can to support local farmers, which is what this motion is all about.”

Mo Metcalf-Fisher, a spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said: “ 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. We are throwing our weight behind this motion and urge all councillors, irrespective of political party, to do so too”.

The motion, titled ‘Supporting Cornwall’s Farmers’, has been supported by Cllrs John Conway (Con), Dave Crabtree (Con), Connor Donnithorne (Con), Anne Double (Con), Dominic Fairman (Lib Dem), Peter Guest (Con), James Mustoe (Con), Adrian Parsons (Lib Dem), Jane Pascoe (Con), Adam Paynter (Independent), Peter Perry (Con), Shorne Tilbey (Con), Peter Williams (Con) and Martin Worth (Con).

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