(Title Image: Hybu Cig Cymru)
The red meat levy – administered by UK’s DEFRA – is paid by all producers and slaughterers to fund meat promotional activities. As the levy is usually paid where the animals are slaughtered, when Welsh and Scottish livestock are slaughtered in England, the meat promotional money is often retained in England too.
The meat promotion body in Wales, Hybu Cig Cymru, has estimated it loses £1million-a-year as a result due to Welsh animals being processed in England.
Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) asked for an update from the Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Secretary, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham).
“I continue to press for a permanent solution to this long-standing inequity. I’m extremely disappointed that, following my requests, measures to ensure a fairer distribution of the red meat levy were not included on the face of the UK Agriculture Bill (a post-Brexit law). I’ve made my views clear there should be a (UK) Government amendment to address this issue.”
– Energy, Planning & Rural Affairs Secretary, Lesley Griffiths
Not sharing Llyr’s pessimism, the Cabinet Secretary saw the Agriculture Bill as an opportunity to solve it once and for all. She also believed the Welsh meat processing industry was “operating well”, but there were concerns over labour post-Brexit, as one plant she visited was 80% staffed by EU nationals.
A Hot Topic
Next, the delightful issue of CCTV in slaughterhouses, asked by Joyce Watson AM (Lab, Mid & West Wales).
The Secretary said all large slaughterhouses had CCTV to ensure animal welfare and other investments to ensure animal welfare, including CCTV, will be prioritised in a grant scheme for smaller producers. At the moment, the Welsh Government are asking slaughterhouses to have CCTV voluntarily alongside a number of other controls, but there’ve been long-standing calls for a mandatory scheme:
“Of course, this has been a hot topic in the Petitions Committee, where it has been proven that there is overwhelming response across Wales for the installation of CCTV. Whilst I appreciate this is progressing, CCTV in slaughterhouses will definitely ensure that mistreatment is detected and dealt with.”
– Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Con, Aberconwy)
In response, the Cabinet Secretary said there were now very few slaughterhouses without CCTV and the aforementioned grant scheme would address that.
Dawn Bowden AM (Lab, Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney) brought up the issue of fly-tipping in her constituency, which she blamed on rogue waste collectors. She asked whether there’s been research undertaken on the impact disposal fees were having on fly-tipping and whether consideration has been given to cutting fees?
The Environment Minister thought behavioural change, similar to that for recycling, was the more appropriate avenue to go down.
“It seems to me to take a lot of effort to just go and dump something when you can actually just take it to the correct site. I think part of the issue of tackling it is to make it socially unacceptable as well, so there is work going on within Welsh Government on a scheme to look at behavioural change in people with recycling, but also how we make it socially unacceptable to fly-tip.”
– Environment Minister, Hannah Blythyn (Lab, Delyn)
The Minister added that even if people have paid for waste to be taken away in good faith, they should never use unlicensed operators; an awareness campaign is being considered.