2001 PRESIDENT DUNCAN MACKENZIE- INAUGURAL SPEECH
Honorary and Past Presidents, Ladies and Gentlemen
Firstly may I thank Past President Bruce Brymer for all his hard work in the past year.
I think that you will all agree that under such difficult circumstances he has done a first rate
job. I remember in his speech last year he said that Past President Wilson Ferguson had the most difficult year in office. I wonder after the year that he has just had, how he feels about that statement now. It also makes me wonder just what lies ahead for myself.
Yet another President stands before you contemplating the future of our trade. In the past we have had BSE, E coli, Foot and Mouth Disease, add to the cauldron Butchers Licensing and Food Labelling and there are more similarities to a Hollywood horror movie than to the state of the Scottish Meat trade, however we are now actively seeking to identify more ways for the Federation to lend its assistance.
I would hope that the membership will see the Federation becoming increasingly aggressive with its approach on all matters affecting us in the future.
And so to the future. Past Presidents, Chief Executives and office bearers of this association have worked hard to develop relationships with the Scottish Office, Food Standards Agency and EHOs to make regulations, guidance and enforcement more user friendly.
My role as President will be to foster and develop these relationships to the greater benefit of Federation members.
Increasingly we are finding that SFMTA is able to work together with these agencies to improve the practicality of legislation burdened upon us. This year for a change someone listened to us; we have managed to come to some kind of workable solution that will make it possible to comply with the totally unnecessary EU Beef Labelling regulations. Later this month along with Past President Wilson Ferguson and our Chief Executive Douglas Scott I will meet the Foods Standards Agency to review the guidelines on Butchers Licensing.
We will in January of next year see the introduction of the second phase of beef labelling. As has been said a thousand times before, it is a piece of legislation that nobody is the least interested in nor wants; just another excuse to keep butchers busy indulging in favourite pastime of form filling. With the production of the new labelling information boards available from the Federation office in Perth, it should make the job a little more bearable.
I would like to think that this year we could make serious inroads to reducing the amount of paper work we are all involved in and try to come up with a system that will be acceptable to both butchers and EHOs. For anyone who is the least bit worried or concerned about the new legislation, remember, the Federation is here to help.
Butchers Licensing continues to be one of the main reasons for butchers contacting the Federation. Without changing guidelines or changing regulations and despite regular visits by EHOs, licence renewals have caused some problems. It is hard to understand how systems and paperwork that was suitable last year are no longer suitable. Why is it that change is suddenly required when licence applications are being considered.
We hate the inconsistency of enforcement authorities. We hate having to do the paperwork. But let's use it to our advantage and hammer home to the consumer that butchers shops are amongst the best monitored, cleanest and safest places to buy food.
Farmers Markets remain a concern to us all, and although everyone welcomes a bit of fair competition, I feel that in this case we are not all playing on a level playing field. When you look at the amount of work and investment that butchers have put in to their shops in the last few years, I can only wonder at how the enforcement authorities can possibly think that a stall in a market place full of traffic and exhaust fumes, some with limited toilet facilities, dubious temperature monitoring, no HACCP system and questionable refrigerated storage, can possibly come up to the standards required by butchers.
It would seem that local authorities are willing to relax regulation and inspection of these markets. There does not seem to be an environmental health problem on a Saturday or Sunday!
Our industry has been diligently enhancing its standards over the last 5 to 10 years but by allowing farmers markets to dilute standards there is a risk of tarnishing the meat industry in the eyes of the consumer.
I will be watching these markets very closely during my year in office.
The feedback from our recent programme of regional meetings has been very positive with members who attended eagerly awaiting the next meeting.
These meetings took the Federation to new venues and to some areas where meetings had not been held for some time. The mission was to have meaningful meetings with an opportunity for members to let their views be known.
The members' voice does count and I would encourage greater attendance and participation. Many new and interesting ideas were demonstrated at these meetings and if just one idea comes to you from attending and listening to other people, or talking to other butchers, then it was a worthwhile trip. The Federation can only help you if you want to help yourself.
Our subsidiary Food Training Services looks forward to a busy year for undoubtedly there is a growing lack of trained butchers in the industry. I believe that there has never been a greater need to introduce new people into our industry.
Hygiene training is increasingly important, as we all know and I believe that Food Training Services has pivotal role to play in the future of our industry.
We will have several new convenors this year
Promotions will be taken over by Miss Cheryl Murdoch from Forres, Livestock will be led by Mr. Jamie Chapman from Wishaw, and Training and Development will be the hands of your Past President Mr. Bruce Brymer from Brechin. I wish them all well and look forward to working with them in the coming year.
Greenock and this estuary are renowned throughout the world for its shipbuilding past. Many quality liners have been baptised here on Clydeside somewhat similar to the voyage that Quality Meat Scotland have now embarked upon in their new role in charge of all meat promotion in Scotland.
The newly launched ship has sailed through troubled waters this year with Foot and Mouth Disease but now are planning a route towards calmer seas and a complete and meaningful assurance from gate to plate.
This Federation wants to be on board with QMS and access the financial support that is rightly ours. The independent butchers in Scotland are very loyal to Scottish farmers and their product so we deserve our own steer on QMS's campaigns.
There are severe reservations about the same posters and point of sale material appearing
in supermarkets as appears in independent shops.
I am fed up hearing chefs on televised cookery programmes telling viewers to go to the supermarket for meat when quality butchers sell top quality Scotch Beef. This, I am sure you will agree, is a totally unacceptable situation.
The new Promotions Committee will consider the views expressed at the recent regional meetings that an aggressive marketing plan for the independent butcher is developed soon.
Butchers are not to be easy targets. Butchers are not in competition with each other. We all know that supermarkets are the real enemy. BSE, e coli, Foot and Mouth have come and gone, but our troops are ready to march into enemy territory. We at the Federation are armed and ready for whatever crises come our way next. W will not waiver in our resolve to continue to provide Scottish customers with the best Scotch product and prove that the best place to buy Scotch meat is at the Scottish butchers.
Thank you for your attention and good afternoon.