Headlines: March 26th, 2007



Public Sector bodies in Wales have been reminded that they can have a positive impact on rural economies and communities by buying locally-produced food. The Sustainable Food Procurement in the Public Sector conference was told that all but one of the NHS Trusts in Wales already served Welsh beef – about 750,000 pounds worth of meat each year.The conference, organised by the Organic Centre Wales, looked at issues such as reducing food miles, ethical standards and reducing processing and waste. Citing the example of the NHS beef buying, Welsh Assembly Environment Minister Carwyn Jones told delegates, “The impact the public sector in Wales can have by buying more local produce is considerable.”

Schools in Wales had also signed an agreement to use more local meat.Mr. Jones said he wanted to increase the amount of local sourcing of food by public organisations. Buying locally, he said, reduced food miles and sustained rural economies. “There are only benefits in taking this approach. That is why I want to build on our success to date and increase the buying of local produce in the public sector,” he said. Such decisions could have an impact on climate change and reduce the amount of processing of food and the production of waste.

The Minister, said too, that Wales had the potential to grow more of the fruit and vegetables consumed there. The Assembly Government wanted to encourage growers and was investigating whether it could make changes to its Organic Farming Scheme to stimulate diversification.