Wales’ rural affairs minister Elin Jones has vowed to do her best to protect the interests of small abattoirs as the Food Standards Agency consults on proposals to move to full cost recovery of official controls at abattoirs.
Wales’ rural affairs minister Elin Jones has vowed to do her best to protect the interests of small abattoirs as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) consults on proposals to move to full cost recovery of official controls at abattoirs.
Speaking at the annual Hybu Cig Cymru conference in Aberystwyth today (Nov 11) to congratulate the “billion pound a year” red meat sector in Wales on its efforts in helping the Welsh economy, the minister said: “The FSA published its proposals following the cuts announced in the UK Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
“My priority, and I will make this clear to the FSA, is that the small, peripheral abattoirs are protected in any changes. The future of small slaughterhouses is vital to the Welsh food industry and they must stay open if we want to see food in Wales sold in farmers’ markets and butchers.
“The Food Standards Agency has a statutory duty placed on it by EU legislation that it must have due regard to low throughput plants – or small abattoirs – when setting charges. If the definition of low throughput plants currently set out in food hygiene regulations is used, it would lead, as the FSA recognises, to a ‘cliff edge’ effect, with abattoirs falling just outside the definition facing the largest proportionate increase in charges.
“There are currently three abattoirs in Wales which fall within this low throughput definition (less than 1,000 units per annum), however a further nine abattoirs in Wales are just above the definition (slaughtering less than 5,200 units per annum). As such, these nine abattoirs may be facing large proportionate increases in charges. There may be more depending on the definition agreed for use in the future, following the consultation.
“Full cost recovery would be the death knell of many of our smaller abattoirs in Wales if they find themselves outside the FSA’s definition of a ‘low throughput’ plant.
“I will be pushing as hard as I can to ensure that the Food Standard Agency’s proposals do not threaten the viability of our smaller abattoirs in Wales. The Welsh Assembly Government will be making a formal response to the consultation and I have already asked my officials to work with the Food Standard Agency in Wales to develop practical proposals that protect the interests of small abattoirs in Wales.”