The Environment, Food and Agriculture minister has taken over as chair of the Isle of Man’s abattoir.

Clare Barber is stepping into the position with immediate effect.

This follows an audit of the Isle of Man Meat Plant that concluded some major challenges need to be addressed.

It added that the factory had the ability to ‘easily carry out the processes’ for which it’s used and that it’s ‘well equipped’.

The report indicates a need to review and improve the sales model, increase the throughput of the plant through operational efficiencies and improved training for employees.

It also highlights a lack of management and financial information and a need to review compliance and governance of the plant.

In response, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture Clare Barber moved quickly to discuss the findings and next steps with the board of directors.

Following this, and in light on the findings, she has taken on the role of chair while a turnaround plan is developed.

Graham Crowe, a lifelong farmer, had been acting as interim chair since January and will remain on the board.

Other changes have seen the plant’s manager resign his role and four new non-executive directors appointed to help find solutions as quickly as possible.

Minister Barber said: ‘A functioning meat plant performs a pivotal role at the centre of both Manx agriculture and the island’s strategic food security policy, so I welcome the report and look forward to addressing the challenges with the board.

‘I would like to thank Graham for stepping in to help over the last 10 months, during which this audit took place.’

The Isle of Man Examiner’s Food and Farming pages revealed earlier this week that the manager, Phil Parsons, is no longer working at the plant and that farmers were being told that some bookings for animals this week were being cancelled.

The current problems are down to a serious shortage of staff to deal with the animals coming into the plant.

So while the plant has plenty of high-quality, finished stock booked in there are simply not enough people to process them.

Kirree Kermode, one of the procurement officers for the Meat Plant, told the Food and Farming pages: ‘The Meat Plant is a huge part of agriculture on this island.’

She added that, as much as she could sympathise with the staff working under pressure at the plant, she understood that the problems it causes for the farmers as they come into winter and want to move stock on.

Work on the turnaround plan has already started and the search for a new plant manager and permanent chair is also underway.

Further resources have also been provided to help the plant address some of the major issues around compliance and security.

The report can be viewed on the DEFA website.