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'They've appointed a yes man' - Kevin Roberts announced as HCC chairman

It follows criticism from the farming sector of the Government’s selection process.



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'He has proven to be a highly popular and effective chair' - Kevin Roberts announced as HCC chairman

Interim Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) chairman Kevin Roberts has been announced as chairman.


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The Welsh Government had come under fire from Welsh levy payers for not requiring the chair to be a levy payer and question marks over whether Mr Roberts was ‘independent’, considering his role on the Government’s selection panel.

 

His appointment prompted a mixed response across the farming sector, with some critical of the fact he was not a Welsh levy payer or farmer, while others called for him to be judged on his performance in the role.

 

When challenged on his appointment at the Royal Welsh Show, Welsh Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths defended the decision and said with only three million people in Wales it was not always possible to draw the right candidate from within the country.

She said: "I wanted the best person for the job and I believe we have got that person."


Crucial

 

In his first speech to the industry at the Royal Welsh Show opening HCC Breakfast, Mr Roberts said exports were crucial to Welsh agriculture’s future.

 

Mr Roberts said: “HCC, working with our partners in farming and processing in Wales, has had notable success in developing business in existing and emerging markets across the globe.

 

He quoted success at a Canadian supermarket chain, a leading foodservice company in Switzerland and 300 extra supermarkets in Spain which will soon be stocking PGI Welsh lamb.

 

“At home, it’s good to see a number of UK retailers making commitments to sourcing more home-produced meat. Many – including companies serving all sectors from the discount to the high-end – have made commitments to Welsh lamb and beef in the past twelve months.

 

Uncomfortable truth

 

“But here is the uncomfortable truth. No amount of home market work can make up for a sudden loss of European exports if that’s what happens in two years’ time.”

 

He added as a third of Welsh lamb went to the EU and there was more demand in markets which were currently closed to it.

 

“We have an outstanding product, and stand ready to work with our partners in Governments to secure unfettered access to markets in Europe and further afield.”

Not happy

Welsh beef and sheep farmer Hugh Tudor said he was not happy he was not a levy payer and not affiliated to Wales.

 

"I am very disappointed, they have appointed a yes man. He will carry out their wishes rather than the levy payers."

 

He was concerned Mr Roberts would not be on the ground listening to farmers.

 

"He is cocooned in Milton Keynes. He is not going to call in those Welsh markets. If he was a farmer he would mix with others."

 

He also highlighted potential issues as Mr Roberts could not speak the Welsh language.

 

He added to win his approval Mr Roberts would need to move to Wales and start mixing with farmers.

 

"He has got to be a little bit more transparent."

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