The public sector in England spends £1.2bn on food and drink each year © 123RF
The public sector in England spends £1.2bn on food and drink each year © 123RF

Law must force public sector to buy UK food, say Welsh farmers

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
24 August 2016

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has called for legislation to mandate the UK public sector to buy British produce.

The FUW said following the Brexit referendum the Welsh Government needed to “take a lead in initiating plans for more sustainable and supportive public procurement policies”.

FUW Flintshire county chairman Eurwyn Roberts met with Lesley Griffiths, Welsh cabinet secretary for environment and rural affairs, at the Denbigh and Flint County Show, where he “made it clear that Wales needs to decide what it wants to be and decide what Wales is about”.

He said he called for “immediate action to initiate draft legislation which will mandate the procurement of British produce by the UK public sector”.

“We don’t want to be the same as other countries, we want to create our own future,” said Roberts.

“And in order for us to create our own future Welsh Government has to realise that hiding behind state-aid rules is no longer an option: our schools, hospitals, armed forces and all other public services deserve access to the top quality produce that we grow here in Wales, and our farmers and rural economies deserve recognition for what they produce.”

He added: “There are still many uncertainties ahead of us but Welsh Government has it in its power to show its support for our Welsh farming industry by making a commitment to its food producers and custodians of the countryside.”

In 2014 former prime minister David Cameron announced at the Royal Welsh show that from 2017 all central government would use a new standard, which takes into account where food is produced, when buying food.

The public sector in England spends £1.2 billion on food and drink each year, of which up to half is spent on imported produce. Of this imported produce, £400m could be sourced within the UK, according to the UK government.

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