Butchers attack proposed grants for meat companies that export

A proposed scheme to give grants to meat companies that export has been attacked by a butchers organisation because it views the scheme as anti-competitive.

The Associated Craftbutchers of Ireland (ACBI) said the grants, which are proposed under the Capital Investment Aid scheme, are a direct and discriminatory attack on local abattoirs and processing companies because, it argued, export companies are often highly active in the home market and compete with small, local meat companies in supplying hotels and restaurants.

Pat Brady, chief executive of ACBI, said that on four occasions he had asked the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) how it could be ensured that any company assisted under the scheme would not be put at a competitive advantage in the home market.

Brady said the question had been ignored. Brady said: "It appears that the Irish meat industry to whose development DARD claims to be committed is not when it comes to the artisan sector, or indeed small business in general, even those with potential for development. While the Capital Investment Aid scheme is being launched today any aid to our sector is in a category which 'it may be opportune to consider', DARD-speak for 'don't hold your breath'".

ACBI is to consider referring the matter to the Competition Authority.