Concerns raised over vet dispute impact as industry deals with Brexit

As the dispute with the Temporary Veterinary Inspectors (TVI) in meat plants around the country deepens, concerns have been raised about its impact on an industry already endeavouring to cope with Brexit.

Speaking to AgriLand, former ICMSA president and chair of the Livestock and Meat Commission of Northern Ireland, Pat O’Rourke, urged all parties to seek an immediate resolution to the matter.

“I would urge all the parties involved to resolve this dispute,” he added, before pointing to the challenges the industry already faces with Brexit on the horizon.

“The industry is facing enough challenges with Brexit and doesn’t need any further disruptions to our capacity to our vital exports.”

Disruption to meat inspection services

Meanwhile, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) said the issue was “unacceptable”.

“This unacceptable disruptive activity left consumers short during what is already a challenging time of the year for scheduling fresh deliveries,” a spokesperson added.

Earlier this week, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine indicated its disappointment over the situation.

“We are very disappointed that the disruption to meat inspection services that commenced before Christmas continued last week,” it added.

The department continues to engage with all the relevant parties to resolve matters as soon as possible, to ensure industry can operate as normal and to avoid any potential animal welfare matters that could arise.

Veterinary Ireland also pointed to the fact there was currently a “worrying shortage” of TVIs on meat factory panels because they were closed by the department in 2012 and subsequently never reopened.

The representative body wants new TVIs to be recruited on the same terms that current inspectors are on.