Today the EFRA Committee publish a report, Moving Animals Across Borders. We strongly welcome this report which details many of the issues facing smaller abattoirs and why it is important to develop and support a thriving UK network.

In particular, we welcome the report’s recommendation that:

‘Supporting and bolstering the UK abattoir network will benefit our food security and protect animal welfare. There is a direct link between the Government’s current policy of limiting journey times between the farm and abattoirs, and the need for a network of small and medium abattoirs spread geographically around the UK. Equally, small abattoirs must be commercially viable businesses, capable of supporting themselves.

Defra should take action to protect small and medium abattoirs as a national strategic asset. These businesses should be supported and bolstered through the Future Farming Resilience Fund. Defra should set out and enact its approach to funding the UK abattoirs network as a strategic national asset within six months.’

Megan Perry, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the Sustainable Food Trust and steering group member of the Abattoir Sector Group, said: ‘We have been campaigning for three and a half years to get the importance of our small, local abattoir network recognised and supported by government. Sadly, we have continued to lose more small abattoirs during this time and we now only have around 60 left in the UK. We are delighted to see the EFRA Committee raising this issue and in particular Defra Minister Lord Benyon’s comments that small abattoirs are “strategic assets”. We cannot have local meat without local abattoirs. Our small, local abattoirs are the lynchpins of higher welfare, sustainable and traceable farming systems, providing the vital infrastructure that enables these systems to be viable. They improve our nation’s food security and resilience to supply chain shocks, such as COVID-19 and, more recently, the CO2 shortage. We therefore urge the EFRA Committee’s recommendation to support and bolster the small abattoir network through government funding, to be enacted as quickly as possible before even more abattoirs close.’

John Mettrick, abattoir owner and chair of the Abattoir Sector Group said: ‘After numerous reports on the difficulties facing small abattoirs, it is heartening that the Efracom report has recognised their importance in the local food supply chain. I look forward to Government implementing the recommendations made in the report in a timely fashion so that the sector can plan a future. Small abattoirs can then support farmers that diversify and supply the public who are increasingly demanding local meat from short resilient supply chains.’

Professor Tim Morris from the Abattoir Sector Group and Animal Health and Welfare Board for England said: ‘The Abattoir Sector Group (ASG) welcomes the Efracom report ‘Moving animals across borders’ endorsing that a network of small and medium abattoirs spread geographically around the UK benefits food security and protects animal welfare, noting a direct link between shorter journey times between farms and abattoirs. Government must address the heavy handed regulations overburdening these smaller abattoirs, preventing them from being successful commercial enterprises. The ASG also recognises smaller abattoirs must be commercially viable businesses, capable of supporting themselves; these businesses should therefore be supported toward greater commercial viability through the Future Farming Resilience Fund.’

The Abattoir Sector Group has been established to provide a unified voice for the small and local abattoir sector: https://abattoirsectorgroup.org.

Co-founders and steering group members include the Sustainable Food Trust, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, National Craft Butchers, Animal Health and Welfare Board for England, Rare Breeds Survival Trust, Princes Countryside Fund and the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers.

Click here to read the full report: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5802/cmselect/cmenvfru/79/7907.htm#_idTextAnchor060

And here for the summary: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/52/environment-food-and-rural-affairs-committee/news/157853/efra-moving-animals-across-borders-report-published/

For further information, contact Megan Perry on megan@sustainablefoodtrust.org.

Sign up to our Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest SFT views and news