Fears for future of Offaly butchers over ongoing dispute Picture: Pixabay
Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley has stated that butcher shops and artisan meat retailers in Laois and Offaly face possible closure before Christmas if the ongoing dispute over funding between the Food Safety Authority Ireland (FSAI) and county managers is not resolved.
"Vets employed by the Local Authority Veterinary Service (LAVS) which oversees the operation of small abattoirs are employed by county councils who in turn are reimbursed by the FSAI. The current extension to the contract is due to run out in a month's time and the abattoirs cannot operate without the supervision and weekly inspections carried out by the local authority vets," Deputy Stanley explained.
"This presents a direct threat to jobs and local butcher shops right across Laois and Offaly in the run-up to Christmas. These businesses have provided an excellent service right throughout the past eight months, during what has been a difficult time for everyone.
"The breakdown in the negotiations centres on a funding figure of approximately €1.2 million, which the County and City Managers Association (CCMA) are holding out on to continue financing the service for the remainder of the year. The contract for the Council Vets has already been extended on a temporary basis a number of times this year but negotiations are now deadlocked.
"Given the dominance of a handful of large meat processing companies in the sector, it is important for farmers that these small local abattoirs continue to operate. They provide an important outlet for animals and any halt to the service will reduce options for farmers and competition in the sector.
"A swift resolution is needed to put this important supply chain for butcher on a secure footing, not just in the run into Christmas, but out into the future. I have requested the Minister for Agriculture and Food to intervene directly and meet with both sides to try and resolve the dispute as quickly as possible.”