1 August 1997

Cowan to quit as FABBL chairman

CHAIRMAN of Farm Assured British Beef and Lamb, Gerald Cowan, is standing down just two months before a big recruitment campaign begins.

Mr Cowan said the FABBL boards decision to appoint a full-time chief executive had changed the chairmans role and, after three years of battling to establish the principle of farm assurance, he felt it was time to quit.

"I am proud to have put farm assurance on the national farming agenda, and to have been involved in the recruitment 21,300 producer members," said Mr Cowan.

John Irish, former chairman of the Spar organisation, and chairman of the interim Assured British Meat board until September, is expected to succeed him. One of his first tasks will be an autumn FABBL relaunch and membership drive, planned to coincide with the national Assured British Meat launch.

In advance of that, FABBL has announced significant operational changes. Tenders have been invited for independent farm inspectors. And producers who are registered through the corporate memberships held by 120 abattoirs, auctioneers and marketing organisations will be invoiced directly in future when their membership is due for renewal.

The annual subscription will be £80, or £5 less if paid by direct debit. New members will pay £85 in the first year. That means corporate membership groups will no longer be able to negotiate special deals allowing them to charge producers nothing, or little, for registration. But firms will still be able to pay all or part of the full subscription on behalf of a member.

In Wales, where FABBLs corporate membership and choice of inspectors were severely criticised, the changes were welcomed by Farm Assured Welsh Livestock.

Board member Philip Morgan said FAWL had rightly stuck to the principle of individual producers all paying the same membership fee, with farm inspections done by people with no commercial interest in the stock.

"We were unfair disadvantaged because our members paid £60 a year while many FABBL people paid nothing, or very little," Mr Morgan claimed. "I hope FABBL members within Wales will now join us when their membership renewal is due, and many new producers will decide to become farm assured." &#42