NEWS RELEASE  5 FEBRUARY 2003

ABATTOIRS: DEFRA MUST CAPITALISE ON EU CONCESSION TO
PRESERVE OUR DIVERSE MEAT PROCESSING INDUSTRY

The UK Government will be given leeway to reprieve smaller abattoirs from
full imposition of meat inspection costs, enabling them to stay in business
as vital contributors to the rural economy.  The European Commission's
Proposal for a Regulation on Official Feed and Food Controls, adopted in
Brussels today, leaves Member States to determine how the cost of official
controls is to be met, based on a number of criteria designed to limit the
financial burden on small businesses.

CLA President Sir Edward Greenwell said:
 
"This is excellent news.  Last November the CLA, NFWI and Soil Association
led a campaign supported by 150 organisations representing the full spectrum
of rural interests to oppose the EU's plans for full recovery of meat
inspection costs from all abattoirs.  For the smaller plants, this could
have seen the cost per animal increase from around #3 to #100, sending them
to the wall and dealing a blow to the meat processing industry and the rural
economy as a whole.

"We can't afford to lose our smaller local abattoirs and cutting plants.
They currently process 49% of UK livestock and are needed to deal with
specialist and local meats, to provide jobs in rural communities, to support
the survival of valued landscapes and farmland biodiversity, and to minimise
the distances travelled by animals.  

"By maintaining charges for meat inspection costs at a proportionate level,
Defra can secure the future of our diverse UK meat processing industry.  We
have requested an early meeting with Food and Farming Minister Lord Whitty
to urge him to pass on to the industry the benefit of this welcome EU
concession." 


For further press information, contact Elspeth Henderson, CLA Head of Media
on tel: 020 7460 7932, mobile 07803 017174; email:
elspethh@cla.org.uk.