Farmer Alan Gardner has resigned his seat on the Food Standard Agency’s board only six months into his three year term.
He has blamed frustration that the agency’s conflict of interest rules forced him to withdraw from a number of key debates about issues affecting primary producers like himself.
“Because I run 1000 ewes I was not able to contribute on topics like atypical scrapie, BSE and Meat Hygiene Service charges,” said Mr Gardner, who farms in Clwyd.
Before accepting the FSA appointment he was vice president of the Farmers Union of Wales and chaired the organisation’s livestock committee. He also sat on the executive board of Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales).
“As I was the only person from Wales with a seat on the board this left the country unrepresented, and on some very important issues I was not able to not put over the views of the FSA’s Welsh Food Advisory Committee, which I chaired.
“This weighed heavily on me and I raised the issue early on. The chairman agreed to look at it, but I became convinced that there appeared to be little chance of the 14 board members changing the rule.”
Mr Gardner said the arrangements meant that his expert knowledge as a primary producer was not directly accessed when some very important issues were discussed, although written evidence was taken from other stakeholders.
“I greatly regret having to resign from what is a plum job, but I felt I was left with no choice but to make way for a new member from Wales.”
Deidre Hutton, FSA chair, said: “I am very sad that Alan feels that he cannot continue as a member of the board, and I would like to thank him for his thoughtful contributions in support of Welsh consumers.”