Trio set Welsh Assembly ministers a challenge

Welsh Assembly ministers have been told to back their words with action and support a new farm co-operative's bid to buy a North Wales abattoir.

The trio behind the project are Sian Pritchard, Gwynfor Roberts and Martin Healy. All three were senior managers at the Cig Môn abattoir, Llangefni, but last summer, Pritchard and Roberts quit, citing managerial disagreements.

They have now called for politicians to "put their money where their mouths are".

At the recent Anglesey Show the trio launched a bid to buy the former Caernarfon abattoir plant, which closed in March. They need to raise £500,000 through a new farmer-owned co-operative called Cig Cibyn, which they hope to have up and running by early November.

Roberts said Cig Cibyn would concentrate on export and halal sales, and avoid contracts with the large supermarket chains.

It would expect to slaughter around 8,000 sheep and 250 beef cattle each week, and pay farmers within 14 days. A nearby processing plant has been sold separately and Cig Cibyn is understood to be the only interested buyer in the abattoir site.

A business plan has been prepared by Wales Co-operative Centre which predicts a monthly revenue of £422,320. Interest, but not dividends, will be paid in Cig Cibyn's first three years of trading.

Anglesey farmer Peredur Hughes has studied the business plans and believes it has a good chance of succeeding. He said: "We as farmers are always being told by our political masters that we need to co-operate and take control of our own futures. There's also a lot of talk about sustainability and reducing food miles." He urged farmers to examine Cig Cibyn's business plan before investing the minimum £500 per share.

He added: "The big difference with Cig Cibyn is that two farmer representatives will sit on the board."

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