CEREDIGION MP Ben Lake is at the forefront of a major new Plaid Cymru campaign to help boost the Welsh food and drink industry.

The 'I'm buying local" campaign encourages party member and supporters to buy more locally produced food and drink with the aim of helping those businesses cope with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as building resilience for the future.

Launched by Mr Lake, Plaid’s Westminster spokesman on rural affairs, and Llyr Gruffydd MS, Plaid's shadow rural affairs minister, it highlights how the pandemic could, with the right leadership, provide an opportunity to re-set the economy.

Mr Lake said: "Plaid Cymru has a long-standing commitment to addressing the crisis in the food industry in Wales that starts with a local procurement policy.

“Some councils in Wales procure school dinner basics such as potatoes and bread from Rochdale and Liverpool. Hundreds of millions of pounds leak out of the Welsh public purse each year because local producers and enterprises are overlooked or unable to compete with the bigger corporations.

"Building a resilient food industry means not only backing our farmers but also developing processing and developing added value for our raw materials.

“To achieve that, we need a strong united voice for the Welsh food industry to protect and support our food producers and agriculture.

"In Wales, our farmers are not only stewards of our environment but are also the economic backbone of rural communities and market towns.

“Welsh agriculture plays a vital role in the broader economy, achieving record exports worth over a half a billion pounds in 2018 and acting as the bedrock to the Welsh food and drink sector which employs over 240,000 workers."

The "I'm Buying Local" campaign is designed to put additional focus on the high-quality local food produced throughout Wales to improve food security and improving farmers’ incomes.

Mr Gruffydd added: “The Welsh food and drink industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The sudden closure of restaurants and coffee shops and the loss of export markets saw many Welsh farmers lose their markets overnight.

“We’ve all seen images of milk being poured down the drain and beef prices have also been severely hit, leaving farms incurring losses and struggling to survive.

“Plaid Cymru has campaigned hard for Government action to help these businesses, but we can all do more. That’s why we’re urging everyone to make that extra effort to back Welsh food and drink producers wherever possible. We also want to celebrate the world-class produce Wales has to offer.

"In terms of our economy and food supplies, the virus has exposed and exacerbated long-ignored issues, including our dependence on imports. Now is the time to rethink, reset and rebuild our food supply from the ground up.

"This campaign will encourage consumers to buy more locally produced food, keeping value in the local economy, our environmental footprint low and strengthening community institutions like farmers' markets and the local High Street.

“This would inject demand into our rural economies, consideration for the environment and sustainability into how we trade and ensure a fair price and choice for consumers and producers.”