Paul Weatherall, Candidate for MHK, Ayre & Michael comments on the Environment & Infrastructure Policy Review Committee 3rd Report for the Session 2020-21: The Meat Plant
As this report states:
“The Meat Plant is a significant strategic asset for the Isle of Man.”
It is essential that the Meat Plant operates in a viable and sustainable way, into the future.
The report is quite scathing in its summary of the governance and operation of the Meat Plant. It expresses concern at both the conduct and the outcome of the 2017 tender process to find a new operator at that time. It is my view that the Review Committee should have suggested that the most appropriate action to take back in 2017/18 would have been to go out to tender again, at that time. However murky that process was though, we now need to get a grip of the Isle of Man Meats company, as it stands, with a clear view as to the strategic policies that we expect the Meat Plant to deliver, for both farmers and consumers. These should include:
- To make the Meat Plant the optimum option for Manx farmers when considering where to send their livestock for slaughter. It should be very much the exception to the rule that farmers find it more convenient, or that they get a better price, by transporting their livestock to the UK for slaughter.
- To ensure that the Meat Plant operates to the best standards of animal welfare during the slaughter process.
- That the Meat Plant’s priority is to provide meat for the Manx domestic market.
- That the Meat Plant operates to maximise revenue from the export of meat surplus to the Island’s requirements.
- That the Meat Plant develops a coherent marketing strategy to further aims 3 & 4 above.
- That the subvention required from government should be subject to regular review (3-5 years).
DEFA should prepare a report for Tynwald advising on options for government to ensure the Meat Plant’s continued operation. Those options should take cognisance of this committee report’s statement that:
“Political interference in the (Meat Plant) Board should be minimised.”
In my view, it is completely unacceptable for a government minister to be Chair of this supposedly private company and that Tim Baker, MHK and Minister for the Department of Infrastructure, should stand down as Chairman of Isle of Man Meats forthwith. He surely has enough on his plate.
The Board should better represent the livestock farmers who use the plant, with DEFA’s controlling vote on behalf of Isle of Man Government being used sparingly on matters of good governance and financial probity.