12 March 1999
Partnership aims to boost Welsh food

By Robert Davies

SECTORS of the Welsh food industry have been urged to collaborate to boost efficiency and profitability.

Strategic action plans for the lamb and beef, dairy and organic food sectors are being implemented by the Welsh Agri-food Partnership.

This new body, which represents every part of the industry, will attempt to find new markets, enhance existing ones and encourage the branding of Welsh food. It will also develop added value food processing.

Working through the Welsh Office, the Welsh Development Agency, local authorities, education and training bodies, and local business development agencies, its aim will be to make the most cost effective use of agri-food industry support funding totalling around £10 million/year.

That includes £1.8m/year of new, ring-fenced money allocated to the WDA.

Key objectives will be to create a strong, farmer-owned, all-Wales red-meat livestock co-operative, and the establishment of a network of best practice demonstration farms. Food processors would also receive help.

The partnerships remit will be to achieve a rural renaissance by implementing the three sector action plans drawn up by separate working groups following wide consultation. It is intended to provide strategic future development of an industry employing 74,000 people and turning over £1.3b/year.