31 July 2001
Welsh minister takes action on OTMS
By Alistair Driver
WELSH Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones has ordered the Intervention Board to take action so the Over Thirty Months Scheme can reopen in Wales.
The scheme, which removes older BSE-risk cattle from the food chain, was halted in February because of foot-and-mouth, leading to huge backlogs.
It resumed in Scotland on 23 July and England on 30 July. But two approved abattoirs in Wales have still not been given the go ahead to reopen.
This led the Farmers Union of Wales president Bob Parry to accuse the Intervention Board of “blatant discrimination” against Welsh farmers.
Mr Parry said it was “a disgrace” that Welsh producers were having to wait longer than their English and Scottish counterparts for the scheme to reopen.
Mr Parry and other farm leaders met Mr Jones in Cardiff on Tuesday (31 July) to demand an explanation for Welsh abattoirs staying shut.
A statement issued on from Mr Jones after the meeting said: “The expectation is that the abattoirs will come on stream in August.”
Mr Jones blamed the delay in Wales on concerns that guidelines to ensure the safety of workers in approved abattoirs were not being consistently adopted.
“I have had to consider most carefully these concerns alongside the issue whether to re-open OTMS abattoir operation in Wales,” he said.
Mr Jones said he had told Intervention Board to ensure that abattoirs comply with the safety rules so the scheme can now be resumed in Wales.
But an FUW spokesman speculated that the real reason for the delay was the foot-and-mouth cull in Wales which had taken up available rendering capacity.
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