13 November 1998

Farm shops help pay for agency?

FARM shops could face the same £100 a year bill as the large supermarkets to fund the running of the food standards agency.

Junior farm minister Jeff Rooker told delegates at the Womens Food and Farming Union annual meeting in London that the agency was one of the most popular measures included in the Labour Partys election manifesto and that it would go ahead.

"We received 1100 comments on the FSA and not one of them was against our proposals," said Mr Rooker.

But he estimated that the agency would cost £60m a year to run and he said the taxpayer should not foot the bill.

Instead, he suggested that the 600,000 retail outletscould each pay a flat rate of £100 a year. "Smaller outlets may need more frequent inspection than some of the larger established food retailers. Therefore, a flat rate seems fair," he said.