A HARPENDEN farmer has slammed the Government for failing to insist that food served at official dinners and functions is produced in Britain.

Several key government residences, including 10 Downing Street, were unable to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests on the subject from the Countryside Alliance, despite ministers' appeals to the public to support farmers by buying British.

Ian Pigott, who runs Thrales End Farm north of Harpenden and has been recognised as NFU Farming Champion of the Year for his efforts to spread public awareness of agriculture, said: "At a time when the Government is encouraging the consumer to have a greater understanding and awareness of food miles, local provenance and an underlying support of quality British farm produce, it is somewhat hypocritical and disappointing that they have not got their own house in order."

Campaigners argue British farmers are struggling to compete on a level playing field with foreign competitiors, who are often able to produce food at a much lower price.

Countryside Alliance chief executive Simon Hart said: "This is simply not good enough. There is no excuse for key government residences not being able to tell us how much of the food they are procuring and serving at official functions is British.

"While progress has been made in recent years, all government residences and departments must lead by example."