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Refusal to Suspend Levy Puts BPEX Future on the Line

by 5m Editor
5 December 2007, at 9:40am

UK - The Meat and Livestock Commission has refused to suspend the 31.05p levy English pig producers are obliged to pay on every slaughtered pig. The National Pig Association has deplored the decision and proposes to challenge it. Member also says it puts the future of British Pig Executive (BPEX) in serious jeopardy.

The levy-holiday was proposed by pig producers to partially offset ruinous production costs. It would have saved pig producers almost £2m over three months, says the NPA.

In strongly worded letter to MLC chairman Peter Barr, NPA Producer Group Chairman, Richard Lister said that the MLC Commission's decision not to support the BPEX application for a three month levy suspension was based on error. He said that the Commission had been mistaken in it's interpretation of the Ministerial Direction over levy funds. It had only been necessary to consult the Devolved Administrations not to be bound by their decisions.

Mr Lister explains that while some responses were not in favour of the suspension of the levy, it was quite clear that the majority of levy payers wanted it. The elected NPA Producer Group, after careful consideration, were also in favour of suspension, which was endorsed by the NFU and the UK pig industries largest levy payer, BQP, said Mr Lister.

He also quoted the recent Radcliffe decision, recommending that decision making was moved closer to the levy payers themselves and not left to the mercy of remote organisations where the perceived interests of other sectors is the determining factor.

"This is a very dangerous precedent for all levy organisations as we move forward," said Mr Lister.

Disregard
Outraged David Black Award winner Richard Longthorp has also written to Peter Barr.

He criticises MLC decision to maintain the levy collection and says he is immensely disappointed by the Commission's total disregard for producer confidence. The MLC/BPEX has become an integral part of the industry in recent years, gaining credibility and respect, but its decision to abandon a levy holiday would damage that relationship and be a final blow for many UK producers.

"The actions of the MLC commissioners is yet another reason why producer confidence was being undermined and why even more producers would be quitting the industry," he says.

He says that Mr Barr and his fellow commissioners clearly have no understanding or sympathy for the plight of the pig industry. They were also in no position to deem what is “appropriate” for the pig industry to do with its own money?

"You, and your fellow commissioners’, decision to ignore industry opinion and the democratic process is shameful in the extreme. And, so as to avoid any doubt, my and other’s disgust is not about having to forego a levy holiday per se, but the commissioners’ flagrant disregard for the principal of democracy and what ultimately happens to OUR money," states Mr Longthorp.

He doubted if the industry and BPEX would survive in its present form because of the immense loss of trust and democracy felt by pig producers.

An emergency meeting of the BPEX is to be held this evening (5 December). NPA is pushing for the decision to be overturned.

Both letters and further comment can be found on the news pages at www.NPA.org.uk.

5m Editor