Meat charging proposals cause uproar

The meat industry has united in slamming Food Standards Agency (FSA) proposals to recover the full cost of official controls on meat.

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), NFU Scotland and the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) have all spoken out against the plans, which the FSA has put up for consultation.

The FSA said it recognised that implementing this decision is of concern to industry, so in putting forward proposals, it has committed to an option to introduce full cost delivery in a phased approach, to reduce the cost of controls from £55.5m to £50m over the next four years and there will be a reduced charge for small businesses with a low throughput, with support being capped at a maximum of 70% of the full costs. The FSA added that it will also continue to work on reforming official controls through discussions at a European level.

BMPA director Stephen Rossides said that while he recognised the government principle of full cost recovery, he did not see why processors should be expected to take on the “inflated overhead costs of a monopoly organisation such as the FSA”.

“The FSA has managed to make some savings, but more can and should be done — the FSA’s commitment to reduce inspection costs from £55m now to £50m by 2014 is insufficient.”

AIMS has claimed that proposals will kill off small and medium-sized abattoirs while reducing choice. “If it gets its way, the FSA will deprive the consumers it is supposed to put first of the opportunity to buy locally sourced meat — the only outlets will be the supermarkets supplying a bulk standard product that has been either imported or produced by a few foreign owned meat conglomerates,” said AIMS policy director Norman Bagley.

SAMW executive manager Ian Anderson added: “We would prefer to ‘see the colour’ of the FSA’s money on these changes before discussing who should pay for what. It is also important to remember that what is being talked about in this consultation is only part of the potential added cost for the industry, with TSE charges also set to be transferred by the government, adding maybe another £8m burden to the meat chain.”

In response, the FSA said the consultation was seeking views from all sectors of the industry and is particularly mindful of the effect on small abattoirs. “Under the current system, the FSA is recovering only around half of the costs of the official controls on meat. As the regulator of the industry, we should not be providing financial support to it,” said a spokesperson.

Responses to the consultation can be submitted by following the links at The closing date is 1 February 2011.

>>Abattoir bosses concerned over meat charging proposals

>>Farmers fear £21m bill for meat inspection


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