Butchers, farmers and small food producers have been overcharged thousands of euros by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
New slaughter inspection fees for small abattoirs and meat factories were introduced at the start of 2021, but the Irish Farmers Journal has learned that the FSAI did not update its internal system and has been knowingly overcharging farmers and other business people slaughtering animals for some time.
When contacted, the FSAI told this newspaper it is aware of the situation and the revised fees would be implemented “in due course”.
However, it is not clear if the €80,000 that has been estimated in overcharged fees will be refunded to farmers, butchers and small-scale food producers.
It is also not clear why the FSAI did not immediately introduce the fee changes, as larger-scale meat factories operated by the Department of Agriculture did.
It is understood that local authorities were only made aware of the overcharging in the last number of weeks
For example, a large scale meat factory overseen by the Department of Agriculture will now charge a farmer 25c when a sheep is killed under the new inspection fees, but a small abattoir would charge 50c for the same sheep.
Although abattoirs are overseen by local authorities, it is understood that the IT system used to charge for slaughter fees is controlled and managed by the FSAI and has not yet been updated to reflect the new fees.
It is understood that local authorities were only made aware of the overcharging in the last number of weeks.
Small abattoirs provide a vital service to many farmers around the country and smaller food producers and oversaw 5.8% (106,680) of the national cattle kill, 8% of the national sheep kill (243,140) and 1.7% (58,753) of the national pig kill in 2019.