NEWS RELEASE    26 NOVEMBER 2002

HUNDREDS OF UK ABATTOIRS COULD CLOSE IF
NEW EU REGULATIONS ARE IMPLEMENTED
150 Organisations Unite to Oppose Threat to the Countryside

Smaller UK abattoirs and cutting plants will be forced out of business if
two new pieces of EU legislation are implemented, the Country Land &
Business Association, National Federation of Women's Institutes and Soil
Association warned today.  The damaging impact would spread far beyond the
meat and livestock industry, and 150 organisations have signed a letter to
Defra Secretary of State Margaret Beckett to strengthen the Government's
hand in imminent EU negotiations.

Speaking on behalf of the CLA, NFWI and Soil Association, CLA Executive
Committee Member Caroline Cranbrook said:

"These new EU regulations would have disastrous consequences and must be
stopped.  Providing for full recovery from the industry of all meat
inspection costs and for changes to the arrangements for disposal of blood
by-products, they would spell the end of the line for the UK's small and
medium-sized abattoirs, while the large ones would become less competitive.


"The extent of the knock-on effects, on the rural economy and beyond, is
vividly demonstrated by the diversity of organisations that have united in
opposition to this serious threat to the countryside.  Farming and food
organisations, environmental, animal welfare, women's, business and tourism
bodies, academic institutions and church leaders - all have come together to
express their deep concern.

"Defra must stand firm in fighting for the survival of a diverse UK meat
processing industry.  The Curry Report and the FMD inquiry reports all
recognised the significance of small and medium-sized enterprises to a
sustainable rural economy.  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 and to minimise the distances travelled by animals."

The EU Proposal for Official Feed and Food Controls proposes full recovery
from the industry of all meat inspection costs.  In the UK, this would
include the cost of Meat Hygiene Service and BSE measures.  Charges for all
plants would increase substantially. If full cost recovery were applied on a
plant-by-plant basis, smaller plants could see the cost per animal increase
from around £3 to a staggering £100, while for large plants this would mean
an increase from £2 - £3 to £10 per animal.  Large plants would become less
competitive against their overseas counterparts and smaller plants would
cease to be financially viable.  The CLA, NFWI, Soil Association and other
partner organisations are urging Defra to hold its position on keeping the
status quo and maintaining charges at a proportionate level.     

The Animal By-Products Regulation, scheduled for introduction in April 2003,
would require all abattoirs to collect and store blood for later disposal by
costly means not currently employed in the UK.  While some large abattoirs
already collect and dispose of blood through renderers, many do not and the
by-product is disposed of with the approval of water companies via the
sewage system or to land.  Under the new arrangements, smaller abattoirs
would have to invest in refrigerated storage tanks, where blood would await
collection, probably on a weekly basis.  As well as the expense, this could
give rise to planning issues.  Disposal by this means would mean
substantially increased long-distance lorry journeys, creating additional
emissions, hazards and possible nuisance.  There is no scientific or other
rational basis for the imposition of blood storage and central disposal.
The CLA, NFWI, Soil Association and other partner organisations are urging
Defra to request a permanent derogation for smaller abattoirs and a
transition implementation period for all abattoirs.

The loss of the UK's network of local abattoirs would have serious
implications for Defra's rural regeneration and regional food strategies to
encourage the marketing of regional and local food.  It would also have an
impact on Countryside Agency projects, the Regional Development Agencies'
food strategies, the Regional Food Groups, Food Links UK, many organic
farms, butchers shops in market towns and villages, numerous speciality meat
businesses, farm diversification into local and direct marketing, farmers'
markets, farm shops, ethnic meat processors, rare breeds, environmental
livestock enterprises, livestock farming in remote and upland areas, farm
B&Bs and rural pubs.  All depend to some extent on local abattoirs, and all
would be affected if they go.  Add to this the animal welfare and
biosecurity issues, and it is not difficult to understand the huge
groundswell of opposition to the EU proposals.  


NOTES TO EDITORS

1) Journalists can obtain copies of the letter to the Secretary of
State from the CLA press office.

2) Signatory organisations include the NFU, Tenant Farmers Association,
Royal Agricultural Society of England, Rare Breeds Survival Trust, National
Federation of Meat and Food Traders, Farm Retail Association, National
Association of Farmers Markets, Compassion in World Farming, Humane
Slaughter Association, RSPCA, the National Trust, CPRE, RSPB, British
Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, City University and
the Bishops of Hereford, St Edmundsbury & Ipswich and St Albans.  A full
list of signatories is available from the CLA press office.

3) The legislative items are contained in EU Working Document
SANCO/1420/2002 Proposal for Official Feed and Food Controls and 1774/2002
Animal By-Products Regulation.

4) Cutting plants prepare slaughtered meat for sale.  They can form
part of an abattoir or a butchers, or can be stand-alone operations.



For further press information, contact:

Elspeth Henderson, CLA Head of Media, tel: 020 7460 7932; mobile: 07803
017174; email:
elspethh@cla.org.uk

Ben Savill, Head of Public Affairs, NFWI, tel: 020 7371 9300; mobile: 0780
3086115.

Sue Flook, Soil Association, tel: 0117 914 2448. 

The EU Proposal for Official Feed and Food Controls proposes full recovery from the industry of all meat inspection costs.  In the UK, this would include the cost of Meat Hygiene Service and BSE measures.  Charges for all plants would increase substantially. If full cost recovery were applied on a plant-by-plant basis, smaller plants could see the cost per animal increase from around £3 to a staggering £100, while for large plants this would mean an increase from £2 - £3 to £10 per animal.  Large plants would become less competitive against their overseas counterparts and smaller plants would cease to be financially viable.  The CLA, NFWI, Soil Association and other partner organisations are urging Defra to hold its position on keeping the status quo and maintaining charges at a proportionate level.      

 

The Animal By-Products Regulation, scheduled for introduction in April 2003, would require all abattoirs to collect and store blood for later disposal by costly means not currently employed in the UK.  While some large abattoirs already collect and dispose of blood through renderers, many do not and the by-product is disposed of with the approval of water companies via the sewage system or to land. 

 

Under the new arrangements, smaller abattoirs would have to invest in refrigerated storage tanks, where blood would await collection, probably on a weekly basis.  As well as the expense, this could give rise to planning issues.  Disposal by this means would mean substantially increased long-distance lorry journeys, creating additional emissions, hazards and possible nuisance.  There is no scientific or other rational basis for the imposition of blood storage and central disposal.  The CLA, NFWI, Soil Association and other partner organisations are urging Defra to request a permanent derogation for smaller abattoirs and a transition implementation period for all abattoirs.

 

The loss of the UK’s network of local abattoirs would have serious implications for Defra’s rural regeneration and regional food strategies to encourage the marketing of regional and local food.  It would also have an impact on Countryside Agency projects, the Regional Development Agencies’ food strategies, the Regional Food Groups, Food Links UK, many organic farms, butchers shops in market towns and villages, numerous speciality meat businesses, farm diversification into local and direct marketing, farmers’ markets, farm shops, ethnic meat processors, rare breeds, environmental livestock enterprises, livestock farming in remote and upland areas, farm B&Bs and rural pubs.  All depend to some extent on local abattoirs, and all would be affected if they go.  Add to this the animal welfare and biosecurity issues, and it is not difficult to understand the huge groundswell of opposition to the EU proposals.  

 

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

 

1)                  Journalists can obtain copies of the letter to the Secretary of State from the CLA press office.

 

2)                  Signatory organisations include the NFU, Tenant Farmers Association, Royal Agricultural Society of England, Rare Breeds Survival Trust, National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, Farm Retail Association, National Association of Farmers Markets, Compassion in World Farming, Humane Slaughter Association, RSPCA, the National Trust, CPRE, RSPB, British Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, City University and the Bishops of Hereford, St Edmundsbury & Ipswich and St Albans.  A full list of signatories is available from the CLA press office.

 

3)                  The legislative items are contained in EU Working Document SANCO/1420/2002 Proposal for Official Feed and Food Controls and 1774/2002 Animal By-Products Regulation.

 

4)                  Cutting plants prepare slaughtered meat for sale.  They can form part of an abattoir or a butchers, or can be stand-alone operations.

                                                                                   

 

 

For further press information, contact:

 

Elspeth Henderson, CLA Head of Media, tel: 020 7460 7932; mobile: 07803 017174; email: elspethh@cla.org.uk. 

 

Ben Savill, Head of Public Affairs, NFWI, tel: 020 7371 9300; mobile: 0780 3086115.

 

Sue Flook, Soil Association, tel: 0117 914 2448.