Thursday, 8 December 2005
Department of Agriculture and Food
Question 66: To ask the Minister for Agriculture and Food her views on requests by the ICSA (details supplied) that she instigate an industry-wide examination of charges and deductions applied at meat plants on slaughtered cattle; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38445/05]
An Bord Bia is statutorily obliged under the Bord Bia Acts to charge a levy on cattle, sheep and pigs at slaughter and at export. The proceeds of the levies are used by An Bord Bia to fund promotional activities for the sector concerned. The rates of the statutory levies are €1.90, €0.25 and €0.25 on bovines, sheep and pigs respectively. These rates have not been increased since they were first introduced in the late 1970's. The state aid rules governing advertising require the sector benefiting from the activity to contribute at least 50% of the cost as the State may not fund such activities at a level above 50%. The rules also require that the levies on livestock at export and at slaughter, be applied systematically and in accordance with the same criteria. A reduction in the levy proceeds would require a proportionate reduction in Exchequer funding to comply with the 50% rule on State funding.
EU legislation provides for the recovery of the cost of providing the meat hygiene inspection service at export approved meat plants. My Department applies fees in this regard to all animals slaughtered, which represent only part of the cost of providing the inspection service. A standard fee per species is charged across all meat plants and the rates are fixed under Statutory Instrument 74 of 2004. The bovine levies, which are collected under the Bovine Disease (Levies) Act 1979, are intended to ensure that farmers share the cost of compensation paid under the TB and brucellosis eradication schemes. The Government reduced the levies by a third with effect from 1 January 2005. This decision, which followed a 25% reduction in 2004, reduced the levies to their pre-2003 levels. The levies now cover approximately 50% of the cost of compensation under the eradication schemes.