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Proposed Cornwall Council Motion Threatens Science-based Approach

  • A motion has been outlined for debate at Cornwall Council on 23rd May with the aim of “developing stronger partnerships with our arable, livestock, and dairy farmers in order to enhance our magnificent countryside” [1].

  • This comes after just last month the council voted to back the Climate & Ecological Bill, with councillors declaring that this sent a message that Cornwall was on the side of preventing catastrophic changes "to our life support systems" [2].

  • Cornwall’s share of emissions from agriculture have been calculated to be 21% [3].

In a clear response to councils across the UK making commitments to plant-based catering, a councillor on Cornwall Council has tabled a motion with the aim of "developing stronger partnerships with our arable, livestock and dairy farmers in order to enhance our magnificent countryside".

Just last month Cornwall Council voted to back the Climate & Ecological Bill, which commits to reversing the destruction of nature by 2030. However, the latest motion, proposed by Conservative Councillor Nick Craker, would ensure that meat and dairy is served at all catered council events.

The Plant-Based Councils Campaign [4] strongly encourages support for farmers, but it is clear from the science that in order for our food to be sustainable, help transitioning towards plant-based food production must be provided. This motion should not prevent any potential discussions on the council moving towards plant-based catering.

Councils across the UK have been debating motions to promote and normalise plant-based eating in response to the climate emergency, most recently at Oxford City Council [5]. Increasing livestock and dairy farming will not enhance the local countryside, on the contrary it has been found to contribute to a number of issues on top of increased emissions; water pollution, zoonotic disease risks, increased water demand, deforestation and biodiversity loss [6]. With news released this week that we have a 66% chance of passing 1.5 degrees over the next 4 years, meaningful action has never been more urgent [7].

Evie Marshall, from Tintagel in Cornwall said:

“As someone that loves spending time out in the countryside and with nature, I am truly worried by what I am witnessing firsthand in the local area. Species are struggling and the waterways are polluted, but it doesn’t have to be like this.
“I’m really hoping that when this motion is debated that the councillors listen to the science and protect our local nature by amending it to support meat and dairy farmers in transitioning toward plant-based farming. This would mean that both local farmers and plant-based produce can be given the priority and recognition they deserve as key climate solutions.”

We are all too aware that farmers are right on the frontlines of the climate emergency; with droughts, heatwaves, flooding, and the decline of wildlife all wreaking havoc with their work and risking food shortages. However, the science is clear that locally sourced animal products are still worse for the environment than imported plant-based food [8]. We would encourage Cornwall Council to work with local farmers to help them understand the urgent need for a shift to a plant-based food system, because they are an essential part of the solution and deserve appropriate support.

Word count: 530

Notes to editor

Photo: Andrew Le Couteur Bisson, CC BY-SA 2.0,

[4] The Plant-Based Councils campaign aims to address the climate emergency starting with the food on our plates. Working with councils across the UK to encourage them to lead the way in the switch from emission heavy foods to plant-based ones that are better for health, environment, and reducing the impact from the cost of living crisis.

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