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Tories criticise Minister for suggesting people only eat meat on ‘high days and holidays’

19 Aug 2021 3 minutes Read
Julie James – Member of the Senedd for Swansea West, Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change

The Tories have criticised the Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change for suggesting people should only eat meat on “high days and holidays”.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Rural Affairs Minister Sam Kurtz accused Labour’s Julie James of showing a “complete lack of understanding of meat as part of a balanced diet”, and its importance for the agricultural economy.

James, a lifelong vegetarian, 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.

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.”

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.”

‘Frongoch Farm’

John Thomas sold Frongoch Farm in Carmarthenshire’s Cothi Valley when he retired three years ago, after living and working on for nearly 70 years.

He says he hoped the new owners would take care of his family home in Cwrt y Cadno and safeguard it for future generations of farmers.

However, earlier this year it was resold to a multi-national investment company called Foresight Group, based at the Shard in London.

Thomas told BBC Wales that it was “breaking my heart” to see his childhood home become one of many sold to “huge, faceless companies in England” for planting trees.

“I feel very sad about it – I feel quite angry actually,” he said.

“It shouldn’t be allowed to happen on such a big scale. It’s shameful that they should be allowed to do this.

“They’re sacrificing Welsh land for the benefit of the rich in England.”

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Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
1 month ago

In spite of Sam Kurtz, it is obvious that we – and the rest of the world – must produce and consume less meat. However, the Welsh Government seems content to allow the free market to determine land use policies that could protect rural communities from inappropriate and usually foreign investment. Alas, the haphazard free market has never delivered beneficial social outcomes, it is not designed to. I have every sympathy with the sentiments expressed by John Thomas, formerly from Cothi Valley. Afforestation, something I strongly support if it is the right tree in the right place, is yet another… Read more »

Shan Morgain
1 month ago

I can understand Tory Minister Sam Kurtz objecting that Labour’s Julie James shows a “complete lack of understanding of meat as part of a balanced diet”, and its importance for the agricultural economy. Classic Tory, no mention of climate change. Misunderstands ‘balanced diet’ which has nothing to do with meat, Tory ignorance. As for the economy if people eat less meat they will be eating other proteins so this will mean jobs. But you can’t expect logic from a Tory, only stereotypes and prejudice. Personally I think meat should be VAT taxed, and then stage 2 licensed so limiting how… Read more »

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

Has the welsh labour govt ever actually consulted anyone involved in welsh agriculture about anything? Sometimes you get the impression the welsh labour govt doesnt want there to be a agriculture industry in Wales. While the spectacle of companies from england getting paid handsomely by the welsh govt to turn farmland over to reforestation is sickening. This is clearly just a money making racket for the companies involved and they couldnt care less about climate change or the loss of wales’ farmlands

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Yes on all points raised. Vividly evident that they either haven’t spoken/consulted with anyone, or they just ignore any feedback and press on with their deeply flawed project. Letting agri down is negligent and bad enough but throwing the doors open for any “financial engineer” to max out on carbon credits is criminal.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Well said Julie James, me too…I won cholesterol level of the month in my surgery the other day…4.2 get in!

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
1 month ago

It was all going so well until “Farming is the backbone of the Welsh economy…”
Farming does employ thousands of jobs now but unless the idiot Tories replace EU funding pretty sharpish it won’t exist because it can’t without subsidy.

Would be intertesting to know to whom John Thomas sold his farm and whether it was a local young farmer. Or did it just go to the highest bidder?

Erisian
Erisian
1 month ago

This is just plain good sense. Especially where farty old cows are concerned.
So I’m far from suprised that old farts from the Conservative and Unionist Party felt obliged to whinge. We simply don’t need that much animal protein and would all be healthier for it – asuming we stay away from hyper-processed ‘meat-substitute ready crap’ and just eat a healthy balanced diet. We were never healthier than during WW2 rationing.

Erisian
Erisian
1 month ago

On the issue of English, or worse still, overseas investors getting rich by growing trees on Welsh soil – words fail me. Nid Cymru am werth! – trouble is, unless the Welsh Government, local authorities or Welsh investors wake up and act – that remains a slogan – and nothing else

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