05 March 1999
‘Think again on meat hygiene charges, Nick’

TEN meat trade associations have written to farm minister Nick Brown demanding a rethink on the planned hike in Meat Hygiene Service charges and warning of significant abattoir closures if nothing is done.

The letter follows a meeting of the Industry Forum last week in which there was universal condemnation of the 21% cost increase included in the 1999/2000 draft budget.

“In a number of smaller plants, the current proposals will result in 100% increases in MHS charges, while major plants face increases of literally hundreds of thousands of pounds,” says the letter. “At either end of the spectrum, this level of increase is simply not affordable and will result in significant closures.”

The NFU is also writing to MAFF to complain. “The whole industry has never been so united,” said livestock committee vice-chairman Les Armstrong. “MHS costs have almost tripled since the start. I fear this will lead to an even more adversarial attitude in abattoirs towards MHS staff. Thats not a threat or something we condone. Its a fact.”

The draft budget was considered by the MHSs ownership board on Wednesday, and its recommendation for new charges from 1 April go to Mr Brown for a decision next week.