- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Categories: Feature, Media
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With the Senedd on summer recess, there’s more time to visit people and projects around the region. Like many of you, last week I attended the Royal Welsh Show. On Tuesday, I teamed up with the Women’s Institute for the launch of our Not in my Name campaign against gender-based violence. The Farmers’ Union of Wales kindly hosted us at the Pavilion. It’s the eleventh year that I have worked with the WI on the initiative. Together, we organise activities around the country aimed at raising awareness of and changing attitudes to violence against women and girls. The Royal Welsh Show was a fantastic springboard – and highlight the extra challenges facing females in rural communities.
Of course, I also enjoyed the competitions, attractions and shops, especially the fantastic food and drink! Welsh Food and Drink exports are at a record high, worth nearly £800 million last year – up a quarter from 2021. Our top-quality products continue to go from strength to strength, with France now our biggest market.
Speaking at the Show, Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths announced a new package of business support to help build on that success, the Strategic Innovation Scheme. As part of it, Project Helix, which offers technical and commercial support to the Welsh food and drink industry, will continue until March 2025. Since it launched in 201, Helix has provided a £355 million economic boost to the industry, helping to create 683 jobs and protecting a further 3,647. More than 700 food and drink businesses have been supported through the scheme and almost 2,100 new products developed.
Also last week, it was announced that Single Malt Welsh Whisky has secured Protected Geographical Indication UK GI status. It is the first new UK spirit to achieve GI status since UKGI was launched – and the first Welsh spirit to do so. Welsh Single Malt Whisky joins 19 other Welsh protected products, including Lamb and Leeks. The industry has expanded rapidly since Penderyn revived and relaunched the brand nearly 20 years ago. Achieving this prestigious status is a huge boost, giving Single Malt Welsh Whisky the recognition and prestige it deserves – iechyd da!
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