Surplus kill capacity is gradually moving back up the agenda in the meat industry after several years of debate dominated by BSE-related official regulatory costs. Latest indication of why the issue is potentially explosive is an extraordinary proposal for yet another attempt by farmers to set up a new slaughtering facility. About a year ago, cattle and sheep producers in northern England and their colleagues across the border began talking of a supposed opportunity to boost their returns by establishing their own killing, cutting and packing facilities, as they believed lucrative margins were being enjoyed by the major processors and/or supermarkets. With some encouragement from both the English and Scottish National Farmers Unions, these producers have now reached the stage of considering a scheme in some detail. A consultancy has given them a feasibility study purporting to prove a venture needing investment of about £700,000, partly by producer subscriptions of £500 per farm, could yield a profit of £3m within five years. The reaction of major slaughtering company executives, to whom £3m as an annual profit even for a quite substantial company is only a dim memory, is unprintable. {{MEAT }}

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