EU plans could be end for abattoirs

Jan 2 2003

By Andrew Forgrave, Rural Affairs Editor


NEW EU proposals would drive smaller abattoirs out of business and hit farmers' markets, a Welsh landowners' leader claimed yesterday.

The legislation, which has already sparked a fierce reaction from the meat industry, would also damage attempts by farmers to climb out of recession, said David Harden, Chairman of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) in Wales.

He said proposals by Brussels to demand full recovery of meat hygiene inspection charges, and to enforce new blood disposal measures, would result in massive new costs for many slaughterhouses and cutting plants.

The CLA estimates smaller plants could see the cost per animal increase from around #3 to a staggering #100. For large plants it would mean an increase from #2-#3 to #10 per animal.

These rises would spark a chain reaction which would destroy jobs and incomes across the meat and livestock industry as well as the wider rural economy and beyond, said Mr Harden.

Already 150 rural organisations, spanning farming, environmental, animal welfare, women's, business and tourism groups, have united in opposition to the EU proposals.

Mr Harden said: "These proposed EU regulations would have disastrous consequences if they are implemented, and so must be stopped.

"Their impact would spell the end of the line for the UK's small and medium-sized abattoirs, while the large ones would become less competitive against foreign competitors."

Smaller local abattoirs and cutting plants currently process 49pc of UK livestock. They deal with specialist and local meats, provide jobs in rural communities and help cut the distances animals travel.

Their survival is seen as essential if animal diseases like foot-and-mouth are to be contained.