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Thursday, 3 December 2009

Liberal Democrat Farming press releases - pinch them from the NFU!

If you don't have anything to say about agriculture then get it from somebody else. This press release by Mark Williams MP is amazing in its barefaced cheek, now he didn't meet Wynfford James but gives the impression he did, didn't do any background research but gives the impression he did, and didn't actually do anything but gives the impression he did.
MP shocked by milk sales figures
11:57am Wednesday 25th November 2009

Ceredigion’s Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams has expressed his concern after new figures showed supplies of Welsh Milk sold to the public sector have dropped by 22%.

At a meeting with NFU Cymru’s Milk Board, Wynfford James, Head of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Food, Fisheries and Market Development Department, explained that the total spent on food and drink by the public sector in 2007 was £66.49million.

Mr James went on to explain that his department has identified that there are substantial opportunities for producers of Welsh fruit and vegetables to supply to the public sector but that there had also been a significant drop in fresh Welsh milk supplies - down by 22% since 2005.

Commenting, Mark Williams said:
“Public procurement is an important tool in ensuring that local producers are supported, so it is a real concern to see a drop in the amount of Welsh milk being purchased by the public sector.

“This issue has been widely publicised, and all parts of the public sector should be aware of the importance of public procurement, so it is extremely disappointing that we have gone backwards.

“The Welsh Assembly Government must take heed of these figures, and ensure that Welsh milk is supported by the public sector.”


The original NFU press release is here, and is copied below.
News

17 - November - 2009NFU CYMRU DAIRY BOARD ALARMED BY PUBLIC PROCUREMENT FIGURES
Supplies of Welsh milk sold to the public sector have dropped by 22% according to latest research figures which Mansel Raymond, NFU Cymru’s Milk Board Chairman, has described as ‘alarming’.

Wynfford James, Head of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Food, Fisheries and Market Development Department, explained to NFU Cymru’s Milk Board members that the total spent on food and drink by the public sector in 2007 was £66.49million.
Welsh food and drink producers from a supply perspective could provide £30.3million of that total spend, but, at the moment Welsh producers are only able to access £14.7million of that public sector market place.

Mr James went on to explain that his department has identified that there are substantial opportunities for producers of Welsh fruit and vegetables to supply to the public sector but that there had also been a significant drop in fresh Welsh milk supplies - down by 22% since 2005. Public sector procurement policies and structures are to blame in the main with many such bodies now favouring a ‘consortium’ approach which makes it difficult for smaller, Welsh based suppliers to bid for and win these contracts.

In response to the tracking studies completed by the Welsh Assembly Government, Mansel Raymond said, “I am very alarmed by the drop in Welsh milk purchased by the public sector. The Welsh dairy industry is in decline and therefore it is the sector
that needs the most support at the moment. Our industry is going through real tough times and whilst public procurement contracts are a small part in a much bigger picture every little helps so it is incumbent on the Assembly Government and other public bodies to do much better.”

John Lougher, a milk producer from Glamorgan, suggested that the biggest drop in Welsh milk supplied was from Local Authorities. The position would be compounded further with the demise of Assembly Government funded School Milk Facilitators. These people were key in helping schools trawl through the administrative nightmare that comes hand in hand with the European free school milk scheme. Mr Lougher said, “Milk is a healthy drink and needs to be introduced at an early age. Sadly, I know there are a lot of schools in Glamorgan that are not getting any milk at the moment, let alone Welsh milk. These Facilitators are key in getting schools to
take up the scheme to the benefit of their pupils.”

Members of the NFU Cymru Milk Board assured Wynfford James that they would be keeping in regular contact with his department and a firm eye on future tracking studies to ensure that the position was much improved in terms of the amount of Welsh milk and indeed Welsh food and drink in general that was purchased by the public sector.

The cheap shot at the Welsh Assembly Government ignores the fact that local authorities are also major procurors of Welsh milk. What I would like to know is how much milk did Ceredigion County Council buy during the same period? Will he make a statement?

2 comments:

Paul said...

Being a city boy, I don't understand farming, I do however understand bad press releases. This one from Plaid is great example:

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/welsh-politics/political-columnists/2009/11/15/release-surely-it-escaped-91466-25168978/

Penri James said...

Paul - Yes its bad!