Abattoir charges may be set to increase say Comhairle
Crofters using Stornoway Abattoir could be facing costs increases of 10 per-cent in the coming year.
The price hikes, on both slaughter and cutting costs, are recommended in a report set to be considered by councillors on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Transport and Infrastructure committee when it meets next week.
The report states that to allow sheep production to continue at current levels, Stornoway Abattoir remains ‘essential to the crofting community’. Charges have been increased gradually in recent years to allow the Stornoway Abattoir ‘to eventually reach break-even financially’, the report states.
The Comhairle operates the slaughtering service from the Stornoway Abattoir annually from August through to December and on a ‘breakeven’ basis.
But, the report states, options for extending the opening period or adding ‘direct value’ to the sale of meat locally are limited as, while the abattoir is operated by the Comhairle, there is no direct connection between throughput and meat sales.
In addition to the price increases, the report is also recommending to councillors the development of a ‘community managed service’, where the abattoir operation could be directly related to the sale of meat in a model similar to that which is successfully operated in Shetland.
The Comhairle’s report confirms that income from the operating period during 2020 for the service was £110,000 while the costs associated with operating the abattoir for the same period were £130,000, resulting in an overall £20,000 shortfall.
Increasing the charges by 10 per cent above base rate for 2021, the report adds, and with a ‘standard increase’ in 2022, should enable the abattoir ‘to get nearer to a financial break-even position by the end of the 2022 season if the number of animals going through the system remain broadly similar to those of 2020’.
The price increase would see slaughter rates for sheep under 12 months old increasing from £28.81 to £31.72, with cutting costs rising from £8.20 to £9.21.
Rates for sheep over 12 months, cattle and pigs would also increase by 10 per cent if councillors back the proposals.
The Transport and Infrastructure committee meet on Wednesday 24 March.