26 November 2000
Brown announces help for abattoirs

By FWi staff

AGRICULTURE minister Nick Brown has announced plans to offset the cost of meat inspection charges that threaten the survival of Britains smallest abattoirs.

Speaking at the Smithfield Show on Sunday (26 November), Mr Brown said he had finally accepted advice from a taskforce which urged him to reduce charges.

The governments Rural White Paper, to be released on Tuesday (28 November), will help small meat-processing plants cope with inspection charges, he said.

“There will be money from MAFF and the Scottish and Welsh administrations to the Meat Hygiene Service to underpin the costs of veterinary inspection.”

The move follows advice from an independent taskforce that urged the government to help contribute 19 million a year towards meat-inspection costs.

The taskforce found that abattoirs which slaughter fewer than 20 cattle a week were having difficulty paying inspection charges, currently levied on an hourly basis.

It concluded last summer that the costs faced by small abattoirs should be reduced, possibly by charging instead on each animal slaughtered.

The Country Landowners Association, which believes small abattoirs are vital to local economies, said it was a shame Mr Brown had taken so long to reduce charges.

Lady Caroline Cranbrook, CLA executive committee member, said: “It is tragic that this decision has taken so long to come.

“Dozens of abattoirs have closed their doors, affecting a range of interests beyond the meat industry to animal welfare, wildlife and conservation and consumer choice.”

Lady Cranbrook added: “Many of these businesses have been handed down through generations, now they are gone for ever.”