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Abattoir meeting expectations and requirements 23 March 2006

    The Island’s abattoir is meeting the expectations and requirements of what is was intended to do, says the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Hon Phil Gawne MHK. In Tynwald, Martyn Quayle MHK suggested that the present Meat Plant was ‘a millstone round the neck’ of the agricultural industry.

    However, Mr Gawne revealed that the beef stock numbers currently being slaughtered by the plant are 7,071 per year, which are in line with the original feasibility study estimates of 7,000.

    “Based on the beef position,”, said Mr Gawne, “it is unlikely that a smaller abattoir could achieve a significant net reduction in cost, after allowing for the capital cost to build a replacement unit and the need to deal with seasonal production peaks in some other way.”

    Sheep and pig numbers are currently below the envisaged throughput with sheep at 58,488 compared to projections of 67,000 and pigs at 8,621 compared to projections of 15,000.

    “It is clear that the existing plant does have surplus capacity,” said the Minister. “However, it is equally clear from the numbers, particularly of cattle, that a plant of this size is appropriate to deal with seasonal peaks. A significantly smaller plant would require the live export of seasonal production peaks.”

    Replacement of the abattoir with a smaller facility was unlikely to be cost-effective. Mr Gawne pointed out that the current plant still has many years of productive life ahead of it. Abandoning it and investing in new plants would require considerable amounts of capital. Associated depreciation had to be taken into account against any reduction in running costs.

    Complete closure of the Island’s slaughtering facilities would require live export of all animals for slaughter elsewhere. The Minister said that the public would not wish to see that situation develop.

    23rd March 2006

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