HC Deb 04 December 1997 vol 302 cc353-4W
24. Mr. Baker

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the provision of abattoirs. [17688]

Mr. Rooker

There are currently 29 abattoirs operating the Over Thirty Months Scheme (OTMS) in the UK. These were awarded contracts in July 1997 following a competitive tender exercise run by the Intervention Board. It was necessary to reduce the number of abattoirs participating in OTMS as numbers of cattle entering the scheme diminished.

The plants were chosen on the basis of objective criteria, principally proximity to the main production areas, hygiene standards and value for money. Together, they provide more than enough capacity to handle the number of animals now expected to come forward under the OTMS, with an allowance which can be factored in to cope with seasonal fluctuations.

Some journey times may have increased, but in general, all cattle are travelling no further to abattoirs than they were prior to the OTMS and in many cases the distances are shorter. Also, the number of livestock markets participating in the scheme has not changed, so access for farmers should not have been seriously affected.

Although there are no OTMS abattoirs in Sussex, sufficient capacity is available in the South East to handle effectively all cattle presented under the scheme in the area.

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