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DON'T BUY FOREIGN FOOD, COUNCILS URGED

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Councils across England and Wales are to be urged to buy British food for their canteens, schools and meals-on-whee...
Councils across England and Wales are to be urged to buy British food for their canteens, schools and meals-on-wheels services to help pull the farming industry out of crisis, reported The Sunday Telegraph (p22).

The Local Government Association will urge members this week to encourage the use of British produce. The LGA believes such a move could help protect local jobs in the food and farming communities. It hopes councils will reverse policies of buying or serving imported food. Many councils have been serving imported beef in schools since the BSE outbreak, while some authorities have served imported lamb on the grounds of economy.

Alison Clish-Green, chairman of the LGA's rural commission, said: 'As this is a difficult time for our farmers, and the whole of British agriculture, we must all pull together to help this troubled but vital

industry'.

Mrs Clish-Green, of West Devon BC, added: 'This is not just about helping farmers - it is high street shops and all those whose jobs depend on healthy agricultural interests that are affected by the

current crisis'.

The LGA is to send a circular to councils, urging them to source the food they serve in schools, canteens and for health and social services from British producers, especially local ones. It is

estimated that local authorities spend£100m on food annually. The councils are also being asked to support the 'Proud to Serve British' campaign, recently launched by the National Farmers' Union.

Councils will enjoy more discretion on where they buy their food supplies under the new Local Government Bill, which received its Second Reading in the commons last week. The Bill will replace

the obligation of local authorities to put many services out to private compulsory competitive tendering - which effectively obliges them to accept lowest-cost contracts - with the principle of

best-value.

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