AHDB is in advanced talks with a private partner to secure the future of independent classification services for farmers.
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is in talks with private business HallMark Veterinary Compliance Services about taking over its commercial subsidiary Meat and Livestock Commercial Services Limited (MLCSL).
The levy-board said it wants to secure the long term future of independent classification services for farmers across Britain.
This move is in response to a challenging business environment and the need to respond to new technology classification systems such as VIA.
AHDB believes that by moving the business into the private sector with a company that has a strong track record of delivering independent services to the meat industry, it will open up opportunities for greater efficiencies and synergies that would not be possible under the current public ownership model and secure the future of the business.
A year long process was undertaken to identify suitable companies that met robust criteria set down by the AHDB Board, including value for money, track record of delivering independent verification services to the meat industry and commitment to the long term future of the business.
After an exhaustive bidding process involving a large number of interested parties, AHDB has now moved to the final phase of negotiations with HallMark and it is hoped that a deal will be completed by the summer.
AHDB Chief Executive Jane King said MLCSL is facing an “increasingly challenging business environment”, and she believes that this move will help secure its future.
“We believe that there will be synergies and efficiencies realised under commercial ownership that would just not be possible under the current public ownership model,” Ms King said.
“These will be vital in securing the short term prospects of the business and freeing up investment for the future.
“In selecting the final bidder, the AHDB Board put a strong emphasis on HallMark’s track record of delivering independent services for Government and the meat industry as it is essential that farmers continue to have confidence in the classification services supplied by MLCSL in the future.”
HallMark Chairman David Peace added: “We are extremely pleased to have been selected by AHDB as the organisation with which they will hold exclusive discussions about taking over its subsidiary, MLCSL.
“As a key contractor to government departments for statutory farm inspections and Official Controls in abattoirs, we pride ourselves on HallMark’s independence, integrity and expertise.
“It is therefore clear to us that MLCSL’s outstanding reputation in all these regards will help us to further strengthen our own position, as well as fulfil our overall strategic objective to diversify and grow our operational capacity towards ever-improving efficiencies for our customers.”