Welsh Food Summits – Why The Secret?

25 Jun

I was told yesterday on my grapevine, that Deputy Minister Alun Davies has instigated two food summits – one for Diary in Aberystwyth on June 22nd and Food Summit at National Botanical Gardens in two weeks time. I emailed the Press  Office and asked for clarification that this info, was correct and if so, for an  explanation as to why even a basic press release has not been sent out? I also  asked who has been invited to both these summits.

My problem, as always, is why is so much basic information like this is hidden from the press, especially those journalists with an interest in food? Communication should be  the key for the WG, but this just appears to be another of wag’s many secrets?

I was pleased to  get a prompt response from a Welsh Government spokesperson who stated: “The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Alun Davies, will host a dairy summit in  Aberystwyth on Friday 22nd June to discuss current issues with the industry and explore collaborative working as a means of supporting the sector. The dairy summit was mentioned in the Chamber by the Deputy Minister on Tuesday 1 May, and a record of this can be found online. The summit to be held on July 12, will explore strengthening the food and drinks sector as a whole. Detailed arrangements are yet to be finalised. Again, industry representatives have been invited. The Deputy Minister feels he is able to organise and host events, talking to people  within the industry as he chooses. Press notices are released to inform media of  notable and interesting Government developments and events, and at the discretion of the Welsh Government.”

Far be it from me to shoot the messenger, but I did have further queries. ‘Industry  representatives’ to my mind means looking after, as always, the big boys. Where do micro & small producers fit in as they don’t have an industry representative?

Of course I’m aware that the Minister can organise and host as he wishes summits or conferences. That criteria also applies to the Welsh Government releasing whatever it wishes as regards notable and interesting developments and events. It’s just a pity, that so far, the WG haven’t deemed this an ‘interesting development’. Being food related, I would have hoped that ‘someone’ might have thought that I’d find this information useful, being that I class myself as a foodie journalist. Seemingly others in power do not! I’m just grateful that someone on my grapevine, kept me in their loop about these secret summits.

The Press Office informs me that I cannot have a list of the WG invitees unless they all give their permission for wag to release this information to me!!! So that’s a no then basically, isn’t it?

The Press Office has also promised me an update on today’s dairy summit and an update of the forthcoming food one.

My concern is that our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers especially, and other Welsh producers who have yet to join us, haven’t got an industry representative so how is their voice to be heard? Which brings me back again to our idea of a producer group because maybe then the Deputy Minister and the WG will have to recognise you all and listen to you.


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