Welsh farmers have welcomed the launch of the Welsh government’s strategic plan for the food and drink industry.
Announced last week, ‘Towards Sustainable Growth: An Action Plan for the Food and Drink Industry 2014 – 2020’ lists 48 actions designed to deliver greater profitability, growth and jobs.
Plans include creating a Food & Drink Wales Industry Board to provide leadership and a voice for the industry; developing the Food & Drink Wales/Bwyd a Diod Cymru identity for food and drink to emphasise Welsh provenance and promote trade and market development; and focusing on training to create a skilled workforce throughout the food chain.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales said primary production was a vital aspect of the food and drink industry in Wales, adding a profitable farming industry would help deliver the plan’s ambitious target of growing Wales’ food and drink industry by 30% to £7bn by 2020. It currently accounts for £5.2bn turnover and 45,000 jobs.
“Wales has been without a strategic direction for food and drink over the past few years so this will begin the process of growing the Welsh food chain from farm to fork which, if implemented properly, could help farm businesses become more sustainable economically,” said FUW president Emyr Jones, adding the union would now consider the detail of the Action Plan and contribute to discussions on its implementation.
Announcing the plan in Cardiff last week, Alun Davies, minister for natural resources and food, said the government had listened to feedback from the industry and had worked to provide the support it needed to thrive, “whether that be better research, administration support, help identifying market opportunities, business advice or financial investment”.
“This plan is not a high-level strategy, it is completely focused on delivery,” he added. “For it to be a success, the plan must be delivered in partnership between the industry and government – with the new Food and Drink Industry Board representing the voice of the industry and providing clear, strong leadership.”
The minister is inviting nominations from the industry for the position of chair of the Food and Drink Industry Board and will announce this appointment at the Royal Welsh Show in July.