23 April 1999

Meat inspection costs relief

FARM minister Nick Brown announced on Wednesday night that government would continue to pay additional meat hygiene inspection costs for another year.

The £21m/yr fee for BSE-related controls in abattoirs was due to be passed back to the industry from Apr 1.

But, as FARMERS WEEKLY revealed (News, Apr 2), farm ministers and the Chancellor of the Exchequer remained locked in discussion as that deadline passed. Talks continued this week, with Mr Brown eventually winning the Treasurys support.

He was due to announce the decision, along with a wide-ranging review of all meat inspection charges, in a parliamentary debate on agriculture on Wed evening.

A MAFF official said the minister had listened to concerns and done everything in his power to ensure the charges were deferred. He added that Mr Brown was particularly concerned about the detrimental effect on smaller businesses, both farms and abattoirs, that the costs would have had.