11 September 1998
Farmers question Curry over Tesco link
By FW staff
MEAT and Livestock Commission chairman Don Curry faced a barrage of questions from 150 farmers at Ashford market in Kent this week, over his role as MLC chairman and his involvement with North Country Primestock, which sells directly to Tesco.
Speaking after the closed meeting, sheep and poultry producer Willie McKeever said Mr Curry was asked to meet producers at the market because they were concerned that there was a conflict of interests with his roles as chairman for the two bodies.
“We felt he could not be devoting enough of his time to the livestock industry when he had these other commitments and a vested interest in a company which competes with livestock markets,” said Mr McKeever.
But Mr Curry stressed that his other business commitments did not impinge on his duties as MLC chairman and that he firmly believed in the value of livestock auction markets. He said markets provided an efficient, welfare-friendly distribution system with clear pricing and that role would continue.
|Under fire: MLC boss Don Curry hotly denied he was anti-livestock markets|
“The MLC is committed to the auction system which is why it is investing heavily to improve welfare and efficiency measures at markets.”
Mr Curry was also asked by beef and sheep producer Frank Languish if funds from the MLC sheep export levy could be diverted into the Farmers Ferry. “We all have a vested interest in the Farmers Ferry succeeding because it sends an important message to government that the live export market is viable. And if it fails we can kiss goodbye to the live export market forever.”
Mr Curry said he backed the ferry initiative and would look into whether diverting export funds was possible. And he added that the MLC had already been involved in providing advice and help with administration matters.