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Minister’s comments about eating meat spark furious response from Welsh TV farmer

19 Aug 2021 5 minutes Read
Gareth Wyn Jones

A minister’s comments about eating meat have sparked a furious response from one of Wales’ best-known farmers.

TV personality Gareth Wyn Jones from Llanfairfechan slammed the Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change Julie James after she suggested people should only eat meat on “high days and holidays”.

In response, he said ministers who are “paid big salaries” should be “thinking about what they say publicly”.

He told James, a lifelong vegetarian, not to “kick” agriculture, saying that it is one of the “biggest and most environmentally friendly industries in Wales”.

James made the suggestion while discussing Welsh Government’s plan to tackle climate change and increase biodiversity by planting more trees.

Plans to encourage more trees to be planted in Wales have recently come under fire for “destroying communities” in rural areas.

Large-scale investment companies have been buying farms across the country for afforestation – planting trees to offset carbon emissions, and there are concerns that this could damage local culture, language and heritage.

The Welsh Government says it is going to launch a consultation on its National Forest plan.

According to Gareth Wyn Jones, “giving opportunities to big companies down in London to buy family farms to grow trees” is “totally wrong”.

In a video posted to Facebook, he said: “A Welsh minster has said we should only eat meat on holidays and high days. I’m not sure what a high day is to be honest with you.

“But we’re up here on Penmaenmawr on a wet, misty day, gathering sheep, and as you can see, surrounded by trees down the bottom there, up here there’s beautiful heather, some gorse, a little bit of bracken as well, very diverse habitat.

“This place will be storing loads and loads carbon and producing top quality protein which is lamb, Welsh lamb, and mutton, producing wool as well, and the ecosystem here will be holding so much flora and fauna, and so much wildlife, insects. The place is absolutely buzzing.

“So, I think these ministers, these people who are paid big salaries, and are guaranteed massive pensions, should really be thinking about what they say publicly, especially you know, about a certain type of food – meat.

“And even if this person is a vegetarian, that’s a personal choice, but why be pushing something like that and talking about the climate?

“And I definitely think what we do here in Wales is sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

‘Balanced diet’ 

He added: “What she should be talking about is growing more vegetables, putting up more polytunnles to get more salads and greens for our children, getting a balanced diet, getting less sugar in our diets.

“We’ve got so much more we can offer in this country. So don’t kick one of the biggest and most environmentally friendly industries in Wales.

“Thousands of people rely on meat in this country, and we have got some of the best producers in the world.

“The talk about growing trees everywhere, is not the solution. Trees aren’t bad. Trees are ok in the right places.

“But we have to get the balance right, and when you’re giving opportunities to big companies down in London to buy family farms to grow trees, by using Welsh taxpayers’ money to offset carbon, it’s totally wrong, and that needs to be addressed ASAP.”

Julie James told WalesOnline: “Not all of the uplands in Wales should be forested. Some of them should be but many are upland peat for example, they shouldn’t have trees on them and have other forms of biodiversity. We have to enhance each part of the landscape to its best possible biodiversity.

“That can absolutely be done but we have to move to a sustainable farming scheme as much as possible and people have to think about the way that they eat. They have to think about the way that they use the planet’s resources.

“Personally, I’m a lifelong vegetarian but there is nothing wrong with eating meat but we just have to be eating it as a high days and holidays type of thing.”

‘Lack of understanding’

Responding, Welsh Conservative Shadow Rural Affairs Minister Sam Kurtz MS said: “The Minister’s comments show a complete lack of understanding of the importance of meat as part of a balanced diet and how it underpins our agricultural and rural economy.

“Farming is the backbone of the Welsh economy, creating tens of thousands of jobs from the field through the supply chain to high street butchers, but these comments show the industry is expendable to the Labour Government.

“Tackling climate change needs public support and economic sense. Understanding this and working with the sector and not against, is the only way positive progress can be made.”

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Cymru Cymraeg
Cymru Cymraeg
1 month ago

It is a scientific fact that methane gases are harmful to the environment. Cows and other livestock produce such gases. We need to consume far less meat (and dairy) products and eat far more local veg and fruit.

Glywys ap Sirhowy
Glywys ap Sirhowy
1 month ago
Reply to  Cymru Cymraeg

The simple answer to that is for you to stop farting.

defaid
defaid
1 month ago
Reply to  Cymru Cymraeg

Save gas. Fart in a piggy bank.

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  Cymru Cymraeg

We are close to dealing with biogas.

Nick
Nick
1 month ago
Reply to  Cymru Cymraeg

Less but better meat and dairy! Extensively produced Welsh meat and and dairy, farmed organically with high animal welfare standards by family farms who receive proper remuneration for their efforts. Not intensively reared animals in big sheds, eating imported feeds and polluting our rivers. Vegetarians eating imported pulses and nuts have no more right to preach to us than agribusiness farmers with big sheds, destroying rural roads with their behemoth tractors.

Jane Shutt
Jane Shutt
1 month ago
Reply to  Cymru Cymraeg

It’s a scientific fact that ruminants on grassland produce methane that is part of the natural carbon cycle and has been ongoing for 50 million years.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

Of course the Tories are bound to put on their act of pretending to give a damn about Welsh agriculture even though they have just signed a trade deal with Australia (and have others in the pipeline) which will do far more harm to Welsh agriculture than a minister’s comments about eating meat. Pure hypocrisy from the Tories as usual. As for the farmers, perhaps they should remember where their subsidies come from and ask themselves if they could even survive without them. I’m not an advocate for vegetarianism/veganism myself but I do agree with the idea that we should… Read more »

Glywys ap Sirhowy
Glywys ap Sirhowy
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

I’ll eat what I want and no one, I mean NO ONE, is going to tell me otherwise!

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 month ago

I tried buying some chicken fillets in a major supermarket yesterday. None available. Then saw Nando’s had no chicken either. Today I checked the supermarket website and find chicken fillets are now 80p per kg more expensive than last week. Looks like we may not be able to eat what we want when we want. No joints of beef available either. I may end up veggie by default!

Nick
Nick
1 month ago
Reply to  Huw Davies

Shush whisper this secret to your friends, it’s Brexit related.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

Fine, but you should also be required to pay the actual price of what you eat rather than the heavily subsidised version. Without the subsidies meat would be more expensive and far more of a luxury which, I think, is the point the Minister was trying to make i.e. we would eat less meat. Like I said, I’m not vegetarian or vegan myself and have no plans to become one but I recognise the argument that humans (or at least Westerners) are eating way too much meat, more than is good for our health or the environment. Overall, I support… Read more »

Morris Dean
Morris Dean
1 month ago

I’m with Julie on this one. We need to support the farming community for the coming transition

Glywys ap Sirhowy
Glywys ap Sirhowy
1 month ago

This Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, comes across just like a Tory plant within the Labour Party and, like most Tories, she is attempting to take us all back to the medieval feudal system.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
1 month ago

Agriculture, forestry and fisheries emply fewer than a quarter what Welsh tourism does which also doesn’t get the £350M a year subsidy to provide 80% of a farmer’s income. I do wish they would get some self awareness, they are neither a big deal nor a contributor to national wealth.
They would have a lot of environmental arguments if only they would stop polluting our rivers and causing a huge carbon footprint and depending on grants for their livelihoods.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

Agreed, the farmers really need to get over themselves.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

The man is defending his livelihood passionately, one which his family have most likely engaged in for centuries. He is a moderniser and seeks ways of supplying popular traditional food in a more efficient and less polluting way.

Of course one can never do enough for those wedded to the more extreme versions of the Green Gospel, yet they consume exotic foods shipped in from all over the globe. I respect completely those vegetarians and vegans who feed predominantly off local produce, but the townie versions who follow “fashion” need to get a life.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Disagree, I doubt if his family have been farming for “centuries”, most farmers haven’t. He doesn’t seem like much of a moderniser to me but rather your normal farmer who has a hissy fit whenever anyone suggest eating less meat. Perhaps if the livestock farmers moved into mixed arable and livestock farming they wouldn’t have to fear loss of income from lower meat consumption and they would be producing more of the vegetables that we need to be producing in this country. I would be rather more willing to listen to the farmers if they didn’t think of themselves as… Read more »

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

My apologies but as you’ve probably guessed I get really annoyed by being referred to by the derogatory term ‘townie’. I also get annoyed by farmers (and their supporters) who refuse to engage in any kind of constructive debate about the environment and farming but rather expect to be able to carry on as normal. The point is that none of us can carry on as normal anymore.

Glen
Glen
1 month ago

Should someone so grossly overweight as Julie James be offering dietary advice?

Shan Morgain
1 month ago
Reply to  Glen

Careful. Overweight is caused by many reasons. Genetics, illness, stress, wrong diet, lack of exercise, medicines, and more. Once it happens the body will not let go of the fat. You can fight it off temporarily but for 98% of us it will creep back on eventually because the brain sets that higher weight as your ‘normal’. Don’t fat-shame someone, it shows ignorance.

Glen
Glen
1 month ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

She certainly didn’t get that size eating beans and nuts.

Gilbyn
Gilbyn
1 month ago

It is patently obvious that climate hysteria is, and will, be used to destroy Welsh communities, and indeed the Welsh economy.

Shan Morgain
1 month ago

I sympathise with how the farmer feels working hard the best he can. But he has to accept that lower levels of meat eating must come, and come very soon now. Meat production has to redirect into other avenues. People will need more vegetables, cereals, beans, nuts etc. We need to go back to the old way of meat once or twice a week, with the remains making chopped dishes and soups. There are other proteins: beans + rice for example.

Mathew Rees
Mathew Rees
1 month ago

This odious man is a bully and a narcissist and does nothing to aid the cause of agriculture in Wales.

Eating meat is not good for you or the planet. Within a decade it will be grown in labs and thankfully we can put the meat industry behind us.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago

For an excellent multi dimensional analysis on the food industry see Prof. Tim Long’s – Feeding Britain Our food problems and how to fix them. The issue has so many facets to it that no one can make a statement on any single one of them without incurring the wrath of others who are concerned with other considerations. The best any Minister could and should do is to remind the public of the complexity and interconnectivity of the issue every time they comment and bundle a few considerations/outputs together. So in this case the need for less meat to be… Read more »

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