Industry lobbies MPs over future of abattoirs

Meat industry, farming and food organisations are joining forces to lobby MPs today about the future of local abattoirs, threatened by what is claimed to be costly over-regulation. An alternative plan to Food Standards Agency (FSA) proposals is being presented to the MPs at the Suffolk Show.

The National Federation of Meat and Food Traders (NFMFT), the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) are to present the plan, which is aimed at staunching proposals they say will double UK meat inspection charges, already the highest in Europe, by asking the industry to pay all costs. The meeting will also address the threat to retail butchers by current guidelines on cross-contamination.

The MPs, Dr Dan Poulter, Peter Aldous, Ben Gummer and David Ruffley, along with Lady Byford – who speaks on agriculture in the House of Lords – will be asked to urge government to remove regulatory gold-plating from the industry and adopt alternative and affordable charging methods for meat inspection. They will be encouraged to support the Macdonald Farming Regulation Task Force recommendations.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Richard Stevenson, NFMFT technical manager, said: “The Food Standards Agency guidelines on cross-contamination are a red-tape nightmare for small food businesses. The FSA actively encourages council inspectors to “enforce” the guidelines. They are therefore tantamount to new regulations – new regulations that have never been scrutinised by Parliament or approved by ministers in either Westminster or Brussels.”

Norman Bagley, AIMS chief executive, said: “Butchers need access to abattoirs to slaughter their livestock and this service has received a shot in the arm by the recent decision to turn down the FSA’s ruinous proposals for full cost recovery. We now need to move on and introduce a cost-effective outsourced service that is deliverable within existing regulations, which will help and encourage small businesses to grow, rather than shutting them down.”

Representatives from the NFU, Farm Retail and Markets Association, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, National Trust, Rare Breeds Survival Trust, RSPB, Soil Association, Suffolk Preservation Society and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust are also attending the meeting.

>Onus on industry to solve meat inspection issue