19 May 2000
Farmers slam Welsh food scheme
By Robert Davies
FIERCE criticism has been levelled by farmers at the Welsh Food Directorate, the body responsible for promoting the marketing of Welsh food.
Members of the National Farmers Union Welsh council say they are unhappy about the way the directorates 4.8m annual budget is being spent.
Hugh Richards, Welsh NFU president, criticised directorate for recruiting a staff of 22 executives rather than putting more money in the pockets of producers.
Huw Evans, Welsh NFU livestock committee chairman, said many livestock producers were uneasy about the directorates performance.
Mr Evans said it seemed to be interested only in schemes that helped a few on the periphery of the food industry, while leaving farmers in limbo.
Ed Rees, Glamorgan delegate to the Welsh NFU council, accused the directorate of tinkering with marketing, rather than doing something constructive.
Wynford James, WFD director, said people had to be recruited to create a credible delivery mechanism for the Welsh Assemblys food industry strategy.
He considered that taking 10 months to conduct a feasibility study and draft a prospectus for the proposed co-op was “very reasonable”.
Mr James said: “We do not have the power to intervene directly in markets to put extra money in farmers pockets.”
He added: “We have achieved a great deal within our remit for progressing the Welsh Food Strategy, which will bring benefits to primary producers.
The WFD has paid more than 760,000 in grants to specific projects aimed at promoting the marketing of Welsh food, said Mr James.