Welsh red meat body in turmoil after two directors resign

Welsh red meat levy body Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) – Meat Promotion Wales – is descending into chaos amid reports of internal divisions, with board members and key staff leaving, Farmers Weekly understands.

The role of chairwoman Catherine Smith is coming under scrutiny after 39 months at the organisation.

Mrs Smith, who farms in Monmouthshire with her husband, took over from Kevin Roberts on 1 April 2021.

See also: Fears over HCC’s performance as bullying claims emerge

Since then, HCC has published 16 summary minutes of board meetings. However, since September 2022, it failed to make this information public.

An HCC spokesperson said the ultimate responsible of publishing the minutes lies with the chief executive. Three people have held this role since September 2022, with most recent interim post holder, Heather Anstey-Myers, having been appointed in January.

Farmers Weekly understands there is considerable disquiet among HCC staff at their Aberystwyth office, with the direction of the organisation under Ms Anstey-Myers.

Two directors have left HCC, as of 12 June. Glyn Rhys Davis, an agricultural surveyor, and Prys Morgan, procurement director for Kepak Retail, based at Merthyr Tydfil, are named on Companies House as having terminated their appointments.

HCC chief executive Gwyn Howells, who has been on sick leave for a year, also left his post on Friday 14 June.

VAT bill

HCC, like other red meat levy bodies including AHDB and Qualty Meat Scotland, has also been hit with an unexpected VAT bill, which has put significant pressure on budgets, along with falling levy receipts.

One industry source said: “Surely, Welsh beef and lamb farmers deserve much greater transparency with what is occurring at the levy board. Serious questions should now be asked as to whether its leadership is fit for purpose.”

The latest upheaval follows concerns over HCC’s performance amid claims of bullying at the organisation in February 2024.

HCC response

HCC confirmed that Rhys Davies and Prys Morgan decided to step down as board members last week. “We’d like to thank them for their service to the industry and wish them well for the future,” said Ms Anstey-Myers.

She added: “Hybu Cig Cymru continues to work tirelessly to deliver for our levy payers and promote the red meat industry in Wales, across the UK and around the world.

“This vital work remains HCC’s primary focus as we prepare for the Royal Welsh Show next month.”

HCC says the matter of missing board minutes on the website has been identified and work is in progress to address this.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “We continue to support Hybu Cig Cymru to deliver its important work. Staffing in all arm’s-length bodies are a matter for them.”

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