Manx meat plant restructuring reviewed
The Isle of Man's new agriculture minister Phil Gawne has re-asserted his desire to save the island’s only abattoir.
Responding to press reports suggesting a u-turn over plans to safeguard the plant, the minister said he was keen to go ahead with the restructure, but will change the plan set by his predecessor. “Clearly we need to restructure the plant, but we haven’t got a lot of funds available, so we are looking at different mechanisms,” he said.
The current proposal, drafted by former agriculture minister John Shimmin, involved putting the plant, currently managed by farmers’ co-operative Fatstock Marketing Association, under government control. But Gawne said this would be too costly, and added that it would take too long to get the support of the farming community, which expressed distrust when the plan was first announced.
“There are other things we could do fairly quickly, and I am optimistic that we will soon reach a successful conclusion with the representatives of the agricultural industry,” he said, not wanting to reveal the details of the new solutions.
According to Gawne, the government must find a compromise between international regulations and its small budget. “The best thing for us would be to ban livestock exports, making sure that all slaughterings take place on the island, but it would be illegal under European laws so that’s out of the question,” he said.
He added that the plant was suffering from its small size that makes it less price-competitive than other facilities. “It is currently cheaper to export the animals than to slaughter them here, so obviously the plant is not viable."