As a result of the significant operational and financial risks presented by the global pandemic, the Falkland Islands Meat Company, FIMCo, in consultation with the autonomous government of the Islands, FIG, and elected lawmakers, MLAs, has made the decision not to employ any overseas meat workers this summer.
FIMCo is now working with the FIG and other parties, to mitigate the financial and farming impacts of a limited season on FIMCo, suppliers, buyers and stakeholders. Usually summer season meat workers are contracted in Chile.
The key action arising from this work has been the decision not to employ any overseas export workers during the 2021 season. This was agreed following an analysis of the current risks facing the business, including the onset of the second wave of Covid-19 across the world, growing disruption to international connectivity – in particular the airbridge – and the potential impact of Brexit on sheep meat prices.
FIMCo will continue to process sheep, lambs and beef for local supply and is investigating the possibility of an ‘100 sheep or equivalent per day’ operation by supplementing the team with local staff as necessary; planning has already begun to allow a smooth transition to this way of working.
FIMCo is also working with the Department of Agriculture and the Falkland Islands Development Corporation to identify animals that will offer the best return for the industry, mindful of the need to understand the financial impact of this decision on all parties.
It is hoped the community will agree that the seriousness of the issues presented by Covid-19 have necessitated this course of action. Over the coming months, the FIMCo Board will seek input from local farmers to help ensure that its business model is appropriately structured and resourced to provide an efficient, fit-for-purpose operation for the long-term benefit of the Falkland Islands.