VEGA News Item

Preaching the Obvious in the Woes of the Meat Industry - 29/05/2009

Focus on Wales

1. The Welsh Assembly Government has launched a Strategic Action Plan "to safeguard and develop the Welsh red meat industry." It is to be prepared by Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales HCC) and the Strategy aims at improving the business performance of farmers and processors, foster innovation, and supply-chain links, improve the industry's understanding of market trends and influence consumer behaviour.

2. Rees Roberts, chair of HCC, applauding the Strategy, welcomed it as "one of the most important and forward-looking documents ever produced for the red meat industry in Wales. It's a challenging document and addresses a huge number of different issues…." It received further praise from farming representatives and industry figures including the National Farmers' Union of Wales, the British Meat Processors Association food policy manager, Philip Hambling, the Policy Director of the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, and Norman Bagley (who commended "a major step forward for medium and small abattoirs and the processing sector in Wales.")

3. VEGA asks what sort of industry this is when "key to the market" is deemed to be the success of the industry in identifying the market, knowing the customer and meeting their needs. Is a Strategy really necessary to find a key to marketing truths that must inform the lowliest of local shopkeepers?. A recent government Budget for the UK estimated that DEFRA could save £44m from its animal diseases surveillance system in a bid to cut public expenditure, as part of a new £35 billion value-for-money target for the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review. The Chancellor has offered a preferred alternative, a more efficient animal disease system that will save government money by sharing costs with industry.

4. DEFRA insisted that saving would not be to the detriment of safety. The Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) is a "rolling program", whereby a 3-year plan is updated annually as the government outlines its intended spending. Again, we don't see why surveillance in the evil farming industry - necessary as it is - should be underwritten by the Government to featherbed live/dead enterprises with help that, say, the horticultural industry is denied - or, at least has been recently in some form by subsidy, grant or vouchers as part of the 5-a-Day fruit-and-veg scheme (which may benefit growers of crops impossible in British latitudes).


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