Archive for March, 2016

Research Into Farmers’ Markets FOI ATISN 10188

04 Mar

I attended two Farmers’ Markets in February and was asked by some producers why they were being contacted and asked questions about Farmers’ Markets. Our lovely Best of Welsh & Borders food and drink producers think I am kept in touch with what’s happening in wag food, but they should know better than that by now! Obviously I asked who was contacting them and was told each time they’d no idea. This is pathetic to hear. But they weren’t pleased at being pestered by phone to answer questions about Farmers’ Markets. Well I was puzzled too. Wag Food have told me in no uncertain terms that they are not responsible for Farmers’ Markets, markets are the Councils’ responsibility.

So my only option was to do yet another FOI. But for those of you wishing to check wag’s website yourself, wag have given this reference ATISN 10199 but also numbered it ATISN10188, sorry for the confusion, but I’m only asking the questions! The response is as follows:

Thank you for your request which I received on the 15th February 2016 about research into Farmers Markets.

A copy of the information I have decided to release is enclosed.

1. Which company has the Welsh Government authorised to undertake this telephone survey?


2. Is this another evaluation on behalf of the work done by Fork2Fork?


3. Or is it a separate survey authorised by the Welsh Government?

The research is separate to the evaluation done by Fork2Fork.

4. Why are the Welsh Government authorising such a survey when they are not responsible for Farmers’ Markets?

The Welsh Government has a Programme for Government Commitment to “Seek to diversify and strengthen the rural economy by the promotion of Farmers’ Markets, the pursuit of new markets, the growth of cooperative marketing arrangements and investment in new equipment”.

We have commissioned research to inform policy in this area.

5. Did the company have to tender for this work?


6. How much is the successful company being paid for undertaking this survey and how many producers are thy obligated to contact and get a response from?

The value of the contract is £19830 including VAT.

The contractor was not obliged to undertake a survey or contact a set number of producers. To add value to the research the contractor has undertaken a survey to provide consumer input. 112 responded.

7. How many food and drink producers are being contacted?


8. What questions are being asked?

See attached document below for the questions. If you want a pdf of the questions asked – shout and I’ll send you a copy.

9. A copy of these questions would be required.

See above questions.

10. What happens to the result of this survey and when will this survey be completed?

Welsh Government will consider the outcomes and feed into policy if appropriate. Completed by April 2016.

11.What are the objectives of this survey?

To support policy development.

Well I can only hope you found this more helpful than I did. All I can take from this is a further waste of £20k given to a company, who are so far in wag’s good books, to be awarded yet another tender and to 381 producers being pestered by them. Amazingly only 112 producers could be bothered to reply, less than a third, so was that really worth £20k?

Just let me remind you that Fork2Fork, FBA, have been paid, as far as we can ascertain, around £1 .3 million pounds, if not more, to look after farmers’ markets, farm shops and box schemes. If Fork2Fork have done the job they were extremely well paid to do, why is another survey needed? Bear in mind  Fork2Fork’s ‘work’ was also evaluated, so what is the point of all this? If wag food is short of cash couldn’t they have found some value-for-money in a different project? I guess wag food would never take into account of producers being pestered by another phone call but you cannot ignore the fact that in many instances, producers had no idea who they were talking to . So what impact has that phone call had? So in that situation, are producers likely to be honest and constructive to this ‘unknown’ person and therefore how can they be honest with them? I think too many producers have lost trust in wag food, that’;s sad to say, but that’s my understanding of it, so from that stance they aren’t likely to be open and make this mini survey of any value.

I’ve just skimmed through the questions producers have been asked – all 22 of them with six names being given as interviewers and I cannot see why Fork2Fork haven’t been asked for this information, which they should have. Question 2 is have you ever sold your goods at Farmers’ Markets in Wales? well if they haven’t why are Wavehill ringing them? Where have Wavehill selcted their  381 producers from?

A copy of the information I have decided to release is enclosed – well it will not surprise you to know that I’m also interested in the information this person is not deciding to release!!!!!

Welsh Government will consider the outcomes and feed into policy if appropriate. Well that’s interesting, after spending £20k, if the government think this survey is ‘appropriate’ it wil be fed into policy – otherwise  guess it will be filed somwhere, never to appear again – but it’s only£20k producers, not a lot of money in wag land.


Staff Levels in WG’s Food Department

03 Mar

FOI 10166

It’s hardly the first time I’ve been asked by a producer how many staff work in the food department. Obviously our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers all know how passionate Welsh Country is to promote Welsh food & drink with those that are working with us, but it’s puzzling that many of them can’t understand that I haven’t got a hot line into wag food, nowadays I haven’t even got contact inbto wag food. So I decided to ask under the Freedom Of Information Act. However I did phrase my question as to how many people were ’employed’ – rather than ‘worked’ for wag food. Follows is wag’s answer in full:

How many personnel were employed in the Welsh Government food department for the years:




2015/16 as at 1st February 2016

I refer you to a previous disclosure, ATISN 8649, where information was provided to cover 2012/13 and 2013/14 respectively. Please see the following link.

The number of staff employed in the WG’s Food Division over the past three financial years?

Food, Fisheries and Market Development Division as at 31st March 2012 – 75

Food and Market Development Division as at 31st March 2013 – 27

Food Division as at 31st March 2014 – 27.

For 2014/2015 and 2015/16, I can confirm the numbers of members of staff as:

2014/15 (as at 31 March 2015) 33

2015/16 (as at 1 February 2016) 33

So a further 6 staff employed since March 2014, but what do those 6 staff do? If I’m honest, I’d really like to know what the other 27 do too ………..………