120 businesses will have to close due to a lack of veterinary inspection if a funding dispute is not resolved between local authorities and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), the Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland (ACBI) has warned.

In a statement today, Friday, October 23, the craft butcher representative group warned:

“The Local Authority Veterinary inspection service [LAVS] is due to finish at the end of November.

Funding issue

“This is on foot of a funding issue between the City and County Managers Association [CCMA] and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.”

The LAVS funding is provided by the Department of Health via the FSAI and there has been a cut in funding in previous years of 2018 and 2019, the ACBI explained.

“The local authorities are looking for funding of €7.8 million and are being offered €6.6 million. CCMA have written to FSAI that the LAVS will end on 30th of November and negotiations are over.

No meat can be sold from local abattoirs without veterinary inspection which means 120 businesses will have to close.  As butchers we need assurance that we won’t reach a cliff edge at the end of November.

“As the inspection of meat prior to sale is a statutory obligation, surely there is a statutory obligation on government to provide that service?

“This decision will impact rural economies at the worst possible time, so decisions will need to be made immediately to reinstitute an inspection service.

While we accept there is a pandemic and a lockdown, and small businesses are struggling, this is an issue affecting local economies all over this country and these butchers were there for their customers all through the first lockdown.

All we want is an assurance that the service will continue and to know who or what department is going to run it.

“Small abattoirs and craft butcher shop owners supply customers with locally sourced beef and lamb purchased from local farmers,” the ACBI said.

“They have complete farm-to-table traceability on all meats, giving the consumer confidence that the food they purchase is locally sourced and fully traceable.

“During the first lockdown these small producers were able to meet the supply and demand from the consumers through their local farmers.

“Action is needed now,” the ACBI concluded. The group is organising a ‘Save Our Abbatoirs’ petition to highlight the issue. Further details on the petition can be found here.