25 April 1997

MLCabattoir plans off

PLANS to rationalise the British red meat industry are no longer on the Meat and Livestock Commissions agenda, despite 50% overcapacity in the abattoir sector and the rising threat of receiverships.

Immediately before the BSE crisis, the commission had proposed a self-financing scheme to pay operators to go out of business.

"That was all put on hold in the wake of the BSE announcement last March and it is now off the agenda altogether," said Bob Bansback, MLC development director.

"The scheme would have needed parliamentary approval and there was not enough support within the industry. But rationalisation is now more important than ever because of reduced throughput," said Mr Bansback.

But SAMW president Alan Kirkwood said there would be no industry redundancy scheme. "There was very little support when this idea was first floated. We are not in a position to recommend any such scheme for the future. It is up to individual firms to take their own business decisions. But more will definitely go out of business in the next 12 months," he forecast.