New farming minister is a veggie

Newly appointed farming minister Jim Fitzpatrick is reportedly a vegetarian. According to Hansard, the record of parliamentary debates, Fitzpatrick admitted he was a vegetarian during a debate in 2006.

During the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) ministers’ questions in December 2006, Conservative MP for Wellingborough Peter Bone invited Fitzpatrick to visit a Post Office in his Northamptonshire constituency.

Bone asked the then DTI minister: “If he visited Kettering, he could come through my constituency, stop with the wonderful sub-postmaster at Little Irchester, and get one of the very good cups of tea and bacon buns that he prepares.”

Fitzpatrick replied: “As a vegetarian, the bacon butty would not be for me.”

One industry body, however, has given the new minister the benefit of the doubt, following a friendly meeting at the Cereals 2009 event in Cambridgeshire.

A National Farmers’ Union (NFU) spokesperson said: “The NFU is a broad church, representing all sectors of farming and growing. If some people choose to be vegetarian, it is their lifestyle choice. However, we would hope Mr Fitzpatrick supports British farmers and growers by buying seasonal British fruit and veg.”

The East London MP is responsible for animal welfare and is in charge of overseeing Defra’s bovine TB programme. He was also joint vice-chair of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare between 1998-2001 .

Animal rights organisation the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has welcomed the news and said it is hoping concerns over animal welfare will now be addressed.

A PETA spokesperson said: “We wish Mr Fitzpatrick success, and we hope he will take this opportunity to address some of the enormous animal welfare problems that exist across the livestock sector.”

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