8 September 2000
Cautious welcome for MoD pledge

By FWi staff

FARMING unions have given a cautious welcome to a pledge by the Ministry of Defence to use more British meat in rations for the armed forces.

Farmers in Wales, England and Scotland have been refusing to allow the MoD access to farmland since February when junior defence minister Peter Kilfoyle revealed that only 2% of lamb fed to the armed forces was British.

According to the Meat and Livestock Commission the MoD had not bought British lamb for a number of years.

But, following negotiations with the main farming unions this week, the ministry has pledged to source 150t of the 710t of lamb that it buys each year from UK farms.

The proportion of British beef used will rise from 800t to 950t of the 1821t of beef consumed by British forces.

MLC chairman Don Curry who chaired the negotiations welcomed the MoDs commitment.

He said: This agreement is the culmination of many months hard work. We hope this will set the tone for future developments and that the proportion of British meat will rise.

A spokesman for the Farmers Union of Wales agreed that the negotiations had been fruitful and that the change in the MoDs buying policy was welcome.

But he added that the union would continue to press for a figure of 100% UK produced meat in armed forces rations.

The NFUs livestock and wool committee chairman Ian Frood added : This is a welcome breakthrough but we continue to be deeply concerned that British troops are being fed on foreign meat while using our land for training purposes.