“Tories and Lib Dems would decimate Rural Wales” say Plaid

Following on from the announcement by the UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stating the Conservative and Lib Dem Westminster Government wanted to reduce direct payments to farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy, local Plaid Cymru politicians Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM and Jonathan Edwards MP have warned farmers that the Tories and Lib Dems are content in seeing rural Wales and the rural economy in ruins with their attempts to see slaughterhouses and livestock producers pay for costly meat hygiene inspections.

The Food Standards Agency has recently closed its consultation on ‘full cost recovery’ for inspections of slaughterhouses which costs approximately £32million throughout the UK. As a result, farming unions throughout the UK have condemned the move and warn that many slaughterhouses in Wales would face closure.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas said:

“I am aware that the UK Treasury requested a submission from the Food Standards Agency detailing how the organisation could save 25% – 40% of its budget. Full cost recovery for meat hygiene inspections is a direct result of the Conservative and Lib Dem fixation on slashing budgets in vital services.

“Slaughterhouses in Wales are more often or not independently owned and smaller in size compared to those operated by large supermarkets. Costly and bureaucratic inspections that already place a burden on operations would inevitably leave many of Wales’ abattoirs uneconomical.

“Welsh Slaughterhouses play a significant role in enhancing the quality of Welsh produce by reducing produce ‘food miles’ from farm to fork.

“As farmers struggle to cope with the soaring costs of feed, fuel and fertiliser; the threat of losing direct payments and now the possibility of shouldering the financial burden of inspections, the Conservatives and Lib Dems really are brazen in their attack on the Welsh farmers and Wales’ rural economy

“There is a direct attack on the our farming community by the Westminster government every week. We are fortunate to have our Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, defending the interests of the Welsh farmer and demonstrates beyond doubt that only Plaid Cymru will stand up for our farming industry.”

Jonathan Edwards added:

“By directly cutting the funding to the Food Standards Agency the Conservatives and Lib Dems are attempting to hide their latest attack on the Welsh farming industry.

“The closure of slaughterhouses would undoubtedly lead to supermarkets dominating the market place and leave farmers having to cope with yet more unfair prices for their product.

“The Plaid Cymru Parliamentary group has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling on the Food Standards Agency to re-consider this plan which would decimate rural Wales.

“This once again proves that the Tories cannot be trusted to protect rural communities”.

Notes to Editor – Plaid Cymru’s Early Day Motion states:

That this House expresses its concerns about the impact upon small and medium sized abattoirs in Wales of Food Standards Agency plans for full cost recovery of meat hygiene controls at slaughterhouses which farmers unions in Wales warn may close as a result of these charge; notes the estimate that over 50% of cattle, 70% of sheep, 25% of pigs and 40% of poultry are slaughtered in independent, small and medium sized plants; remembers the key role played by small and medium sized abattoirs in the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak where local slaughterhouses reduced the risk of the disease spreading by ensuring animals didn’t have to travel significant distances to slaughter; supports locally reared and slaughtered meat from independent retailers which have a low number of travel miles and keep small businesses profitable and calls for the Food Standards Agency to re-consider these plans to raise prices for abattoirs.

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