asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their estimate of the effects on the meat production and processing industries of the requirement that abattoir owners strictly adhere to the Meat Hygiene Directive 91/497 and of the recent Government decision that they should bear the cost for disposal of all specified risk material; and what consequences this will have for domestic beef, lamb and pork production by sector. [HL673]
Based on the current size and structure of the meat production and processing industry in Great Britain, it is estimated by the Meat Hygiene Service that it will be necessary to secure the services of an additional 300 Official Veterinary Surgeons in order to bring veterinary supervision levels in licensed fresh red meat and poultry meat plants (i. e. slaughterhouses, cutting plants and cold stores) up to the levels required by the EU meat hygiene Directives. In accordance with EU rules, the costs of this additional veterinary supervision, estimated at £21 million in a full year, will have to be recovered from plant operators in the normal way. However, given the shortage of veterinarians willing to undertake meat hygiene work in the UK, full compliance with EU requirements is not possible immediately and it may be some years before the required levels and frequency of veterinary supervision is achieved in all licensed plants.The industry already bears the cost of disposal of all SRM and has done so since the relevant controls were introduced in 1989. The Government have recently announced their intention of charging industry for the enforcement of these controls. The cost to industry is estimated to be £21.5 million in the first year. It is not possible to give separate figures for the beef and lamb sectors.The effect of these increased costs will be to reduce producer incomes and to encourage further rationalisation in the primary production and meat slaughtering sector. However, since the throughput of any plant closures will be taken up by those plants remaining in business, there should be no effect on overall beef, lamb and pork supplies.