The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture has today, Monday 4 December 2017, announced that a new commercial board is being put in place to run the Isle of Man’s meat plant.
The way forward has been agreed by the Department, the Fatstock Marketing Association (FMA) and the Agricultural Marketing Society (AMS), with the aim of securing the long-term future of the facility at Tromode.
The new management team, which is scheduled to take over the running of the business in January 2018, will be tasked with delivering improved performance and more competitive pricing to farmers. A key part of this work will focus on achieving more effective marketing and supply management in order to better support the Island’s agricultural sector.
Efforts will also be made to attract UK commercial partners to further enhance the sustainability of the meat plant, which slaughters cattle, sheep and pigs from local farms.
The plant will continue to be supported by the Isle of Man Government, but there will be a renewed emphasis on achieving efficiencies.
The new arrangements have been drawn up with input from key stakeholders in the farming industry. Recent discussions have been productive and an industry meeting will be held on Monday 11 December at the QEII High School in Peel, starting at 7pm.
A fresh approach was required after a tender exercise to seek a private operator to take over the running of the meat plant failed to identify a preferred bidder.
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: ‘It has been clear for some time that the plant needs to be operated more efficiently and with a stronger commercial focus. I have been encouraged by the pragmatic approach taken during this process and the willingness of all parties to arrive at a solution that represents the best interest of our taxpayers, our consumers and our farmers.’
He added: ‘The meat plant is a national asset that is vital to the future success of our farming industry and local food security. I am confident that the new arrangements will provide greater certainty and put in place the foundations for a more sustainable future.’
Andrew Cooper, General Secretary of the Manx National Farmers Union, said: ‘A fundamental lack of profitability in livestock sectors on Island means that change is necessary. Major shifts do need to happen to place Manx farming on a level and competitive playing field with our UK counterparts. Our members are cautiously optimistic, but they won’t be able to make informed business decisions until the purchasing matrix, price points and other associated details have been presented to them.’
A spokesman for the FMA Board commented: ‘The Board was disappointed not to be successful in the recently discontinued tender process. However, the FMA Directors have concluded that the best future for the livestock sector in the Isle of Man lies in this proposed venture. We are committed to delivering a rapid and smooth transition as well as contributing to this exciting new business. It is encouraging that some of the initiatives we have been developing are being considered as part of the forthcoming strategy.’