Abattoirs are the linchpins of local food and sustainable livestock systems, adding value to meat, serving local consumers, reducing distance to slaughter and producing traceable by-products.

Organised by the Sustainable Food Trust, this session, chaired by CEO Patrick Holden, outlined the current situation in light of the Agriculture Bill, Covid and Brexit. The panel then discussed what is needed to make small abattoirs sustainable for the future.

Beginning with Will Harris, owner of White Oak Pastures and home to one of America’s only on-farm slaughterhouses, we explored how the problems facing small abattoirs are mirrored across the pond. He talked about why slaughtering on farm, or as near to the farm as possible, is so important, and shared his knowledge of the best ways to achieve this.

Head of the Food Standards Agency Emily Miles spoke about the situation in the UK and what is needed from a regulatory and governmental point of view to ensure the small abattoir sector can be resilient and thrive. She talked about measures already being taken by the FSA and gave insights to the impact of Brexit and COVID-19, looking to the future and what more can be done.

Marisa Heath from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare shared the work of the new small abattoir sector group, including work on waste, reducing distance to slaughter and how Government support could enable small abattoirs to thrive.

Finally, we heard from Sara Grady and Alice Robinson about how to make small abattoirs sustainable from the ground up, through developing by-product markets. They are adding value to what has in recent years become a waste product for abattoirs – hides and skins – by developing leather that is fully traceable back to the farm.

Re-watch this session on Youtube