UK refuses to back EU school food scheme

The UK has refused to support an EU plan to increase school visits to farms and encourage youngsters to eat more fruit and vegetables.

European farm ministers meeting on Monday (11 April) adopted a regulation that aims to promote the consumption of milk, fruit and vegetables in schools.

The UK abstained from the vote. The Hungarian and Netherlands delegations voted against the adoption of the regulation.

See also: Children want to know more about farming – survey

The EU scheme will have an annual budget of €250m (£201m). It will see selected agricultural products supplied to schools in a bid to promote healthy eating habits and local food.

Brussels said one of the new features of the new scheme was a strengthened emphasis on educational activities, such as farm visits for children.

Participating countries would be able to choose from a list of eligible foods and supply them to schools, with an emphasis on fresh and healthy products, it said.

The school fruit and vegetables scheme and the school milk scheme are currently separate programmes. The new regulation will merge them into one.

Strengthening the two schemes was of great importance, said Brussels, particularly in the context of declining consumption among children of fresh fruit and vegetables and milk products.

The new regulation will be applicable from August 2017.

Farmers Weekly has asked Defra why the UK abstained from the vote. Any Defra response will be added to this article once it has been received.

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