19 June 1998

MLC to come under scrutiny

THE Meat and Livestock Commission is to have its activities scrutinised under a government review.

Lord Donoughue, junior farm minister, said MAFF would carry out a comprehensive review to see if the MLC should be maintained.

"Reviews of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) are carried out every five years. This is an excellent opportunity for all interested parties carefully to consider and give us their views on all aspects of the MLCs work, responsibilities and structure. This will be a thorough review which will start by asking whether there is a continuing need for a MLC," he said.

"We are inviting comments on various questions relating to the performance of the MLC, such as what role, if any, it should play in the future and whether changes to its organisation and structure are necessary," Lord Donoughue said.

According to Robert Forster, chief executive of the National Beef Association, the MLC does a lot of unseen work, and the shift back to eating beef would have been a lot slower without the organisation.

But, with farmers contributing two-thirds of MLCs funding, it was not surprising that they felt a little frustrated about the overwhelming influence exerted by retailers, who contribute nothing.

Stephen Rossides, head of NFU livestock, said the union would have to consult with its members before making a submission and therefore he didnt want to pre-empt any criticisms or recommendations.