22 January 2001
Minister backs farmers on MoD meat

By FWi staff

WELSH rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones has met farmers leaders and the Ministry of Defence over the lack of British meat bought by the armed forces.

Glyn Powell, deputy president of the Farmers Union of Wales, attended the meeting with defence under-secretary Dr Lewis Moonie on Monday (22 January).

After the meeting in London, Mr Powell said Welsh farmers had received Mr Jones support to get the MoD to buy more British meat for the armed forces.

“The National Assembly has thrown its full weight behind the campaign to increase the amount of home-produced beef and lamb bought by the MoD.”

Mr Powell said Mr Jones had made it clear to Dr Moonie that the Welsh National Assembly was backing the farmers rather the MOD over the issue.

“We as farmers no longer feel as though we are alone in fighting this battle, now that the Assemblys minister has pledged to maintain pressure on the MoD.”

The meeting focused on the interpretation in different countries of European rules and regulations governing meat supply contract-awarding by the MoD.

The MoD has said that insisting on British meat would contravene European Union rules and be against taxpayers interests if imported supplies were cheaper.

But Mr Powell said a number of legal issues needed to be examined.

The MoD reacted positively to the idea that British farm assurance standards should be the minimum required for meat bought by the armed forces, he claimed.

“The FUW believes that our troops only deserve the best,” said Mr Powell.

“Food must be produced here to a certain standard. Those same standards must be applied to the food served to our soldiers, sailors and airmen.”

Mr Powell added: “The MoD must not look at price alone, but must look at the standard of food supplied to our forces.

“Welsh lamb and beef is produced to the highest possible standards, which puts it streets ahead of much of the foreign meat bought by the MoD at present.”

Statistics released recently show that the MoD currently buys just 20% of its lamb and 50% of its beef from British farmers.