Thanks To Sender Of Another ‘Brown’ Envelope

24 Sep

A further envelope arrived today, simply marked for my attention as Editor. To be strictly true on this occasion, it wasn’t a brown envelope, but a white one, but the envelope colour is really not the point. I’d just like to thank whoever sent in more information that he or she thinks I might be missing out on. I can totally understand the sender wishing to remain anonymous; I doubt very much that the sender is on of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers, BOW  because after ten years our producers are well aware that as a journalist, and yes wag that is what I still am, a journalist, I will not reveal my sources. It does not matter to me one jot who is questioning me. I’ve had Ministers and civil servants that have insisted that I have to give a company name to a complaint otherwise they will not deal with it. But I refuse to do that unless the company wishes me to do so and if that’s the case the company can do their complaints themselves. So no-one will action my queries or complaints, but that does save them some work doesn’t it? I would put forward complaints to wag food because until our industry can trust the food department, no company names will go forward from me.

But as to who is helping me out there, all I can say is thank-you. I just wish more ‘useful’ information came through to me, but guess I’m best being grateful and not greedy!

I hope now I’ve whetted your appetite and now you wish to know what was in the envelope. Here’s a summary for you: It was taken from Sell 2 Wales on 18.9.14.

Supplier framework for the Fork2Fork project

Short description of the contract or purchase.

FBA is seeking to establish a framework of several individuals to provide a range of consultancy support around a Welsh Government /EU funded project being delivered by the organisation. The project in question, Fork2Fork, aims to raise awareness, provide information and encourage people to buy direct from local producers. There are numerous opportunities to buy direct, be it from farmers’ markets, farm shops, box schemes, online, food festivals and of course from the farm itself. 

Ian had already picked this up from Sell 2 Wales, but the reason I hadn’t posted is we were trying to uncover more detail. Fork2Fork states that FBA will be directing the Fork2Fork campaign until June 2015.

I have spoken on many, many occasions with the Scheme Manager of the Supply Chain Efficiencies Scheme, SCES. This scheme goes through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 and is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in Rural Areas.

These are extracts taken from emails between myself and the Scheme Manger in January of last year.

The project sponsor, Francis Balsom Associates Ltd, recently made a standard request to vary and/or extend its existing project through the usual Project Variation procedure.  All projects, including those under the Supply Chain Efficiencies Scheme, have the opportunity to request variations or amendments to their projects both in terms of length of time for delivery or the total cost of the project by submitting a proposal to Scheme Management Unit.  We then assess and appraise such proposals and may give approval for the amendment if it is considered to be duly justified within the terms of the Scheme and the context of the project taking into account any evaluation reports where available. FBA are delivering a project that was designed by them and which is delivering against aims and objectives set by them.  This is not a contract. This Supply Chain Efficiencies Scheme project was originally approved for two years but under the terms of the scheme projects can ask for extensions up to a final date of 30 June 2015.  This project has been extended twice and the last extension was approved by me as Scheme Manager on 10 October 2012. 

In respect of the project information it was originally approved with a start date of 2 July 2009 and a completion date of 30 June 2011 with total grant award of £799,736 and at the last extension the completion date was 31 March 2014 with a total grant award of £898,497. This comprised of (approximately) £55,000 for the second national conference that was delivered in 2012 and a further £43,761 for additional activity for the website, some further information circulation and an extension to the independent evaluation as the project will now run over a longer period.

In July this year I sent through an FOI 8646, asking if Fork2Fork scheme had been extended, to what date, how much money had been awarded and what for. Also what other role is Fork2Fork undertaking for wag and at what cost and why Fork2Fork were considered a Food Hall Partner Organisation at the RWAS. Well no surprise for me to tell you that wag refused to answer any of my questions stating the Substantial Harm Test – harm would likely to occur if this information was released at this point in time. Funding information will be published in autumn. 

So the onus is on us ‘in autumn’ to keep searching for this information until we find it. No doubt it will buried on the wag website – but how helpful is that? When is wag’s autumn? Where will we find it? Is this what wag food mean when they say they are working with our industry? Pity wag can’t make life easy for us.

Oh for an open and transparent Welsh government.

I will not be the only person who will be confused with this latest happening with Fork2Fork. I’m constantly talking to food producers, as are the team here and I’ve yet to find a food producer who understands what Fork2Fork have attempted to do over the last few years, whilst being funded nearly £900k. But not to worry folks, Europe’s boxes were ticked to perfection and that seems to be the most important matter.

Just before the RWAS, Fork2Fork announced that their campaign had entered a new phase and extension until the summer of 2015. I think I can take it as read that further funding has been given to take them through to June 2015; I think that’s fair to assume. Despite my many questions, I am still not clear what, if any monitoring is in place for these SCES schemes. If there is monitoring, is it by someone with the experience to do it, or is it just done by a wag box-ticker?

I guess this latest news will upset those at Pembrokeshire Produce Direct who have had to fold their project.

It’s frustrating that so much money is thrown at these projects when so many food producers are crying out for practical help and some financial support.




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    September 24, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Have you got a mole in wag food as well as a mole in welsh country?
    Well done him or her, pity they can’t send you more stuff. Seems like you have someone there on your side, but one is not enough with the flack you are getting. But one brave soul is better than none. I assume you can’t track this person, not that you’d want to do that, but then why isn’t more detail coming to you?
    Your recent posts have made me so angry.
    It was on the cards that fork 2 fork would get even more cash, they are one very wag food favoured company.
    I cannot believe that the powers that be think this was a successful campaign, but what would I know as a producer? Probably just as much as you as a journalist Kath!

  2. Parrot

    September 24, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    I am grateful that brown envelopes arrive!! I couldn’t care less who has sent them, but someone cares about producers and seemingly what we are trying to do at Welsh Country. I’d love to know what goes on in the civil service food department, but with the brick wall around them and the no answering questions policy it’s now rather pathetic.
    If wag food put our food producers first we wouldn’t have these on going problems.

  3. beer boy

    September 25, 2014 at 10:02 am

    See Kath instead of a VBF…..very best friend you have a BEF ………brown envelope friend that’s some good news for a change.
    Pity you haven’t got more BEFs in wag food, but not agreeing with wag then you couldn’t expect that.
    The greatest shame is that wag aren’t grown-up enough, or switched on enough to understand that you are one of the few people brave enough to tell them how it is. They are not doing a good job for us.
    It’s been said before and will be said again, you could never run a business like the civil servants run the food department.
    I cannot believe the work you put in to support us and if you had wag food to work with, things could be so much better for us.
    The new management in wag food is no better than the old one, in fact I think it’s worse. It certainly is that way for you and the guys at the magazine.
    I really am sorry you are getting nowhere but it takes big people to admit things could be better and that is not in the civil service training manual, they work on we are always doing a good job.

  4. Parrot

    September 25, 2014 at 10:17 am

    It was my choice to back our producers. You must understand that. It was my choice to promise to back our producers. I could not be a ‘brown nose’ telling lies to wag food that they are wonderful. It would certainly have made life easier, but would not have been honest. Honesty doesn’t matter to some people/companies, but it does to us. I don’t think I’m brave, just honest and I do care about Welsh food and drink.
    When has constructive criticism been wrong? When you are dealing with wag and wag food apparently. Knowing very little about the civil service, I’d never expect wag food to admit anything in their world is wrong, why should they? They get paid each month anyway. I did have high hopes for the new team but that was then…………

  5. trader

    October 24, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    You could do with a lot more brown envelopes coming through
    you need more than one a mole in wag food to help you.

  6. trader

    November 6, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I wish your brown envelope sender would keep sending you more of them
    but isn’t is brill to have someone on the inside on our side for a change?

  7. Producer

    November 28, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Pity there aren’t more moles in wag food sending you more brown envelopes. It’s one way for you and us to find out what is going on.