UFU welcomes Minister’s comments on public procurement

Wednesday, 6 March, 2013

The Ulster Farmers’ Union President Harry Sinclair has welcomed Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill’s call for more local ingredients to be used in government food contracts, particularly beef.

Harry Sinclair said; “It is unfortunate that it has taken the horse meat scandal to bring this issue to the fore. The UFU have been urging the government to source local ingredients for its food contracts for some time now and even met with Finance Minister Sammy Wilson last year to push for a greater commitment to local produce. I am pleased that the Agriculture Minister is showing her support for sourcing local ingredients in government food contracts, something which we have been urging the Minister to do so since the horse meat issue came to light. 

“Our patients in hospitals and children in schools deserve safe and healthy food. By sourcing ingredients locally, and in particular Farm Quality Assured beef, families can be confident that they are getting the best. 

“We support the Agriculture Minister’s suggestion to Finance Minister Sammy Wilson to commission a review of how the government contracts for certain types of produce. The UFU would be able to provide ample evidence to support the benefits of sourcing local ingredients. 

“Ultimately, going forward we need commitment from the wider Northern Ireland Executive to sourcing locally. I would encourage all government Ministers to step up and show their support for local produce. There is an obvious direct link for the Ministers in Health, Education, Justice and Finance to engage proactively in this along with the Agriculture Minister. Sourcing food locally should be the standard for public procurement and I would like to see this happening sooner rather than later.”