Today’s announcement by Farming Minister Mark Spencer that funding will be made available to the small abattoir sector is welcome news and will be integral to the future of local, sustainable and high welfare farming.

Megan Perry, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) said: “We are grateful to the Ministers and government officials who have shown a willingness to listen to those from the industry and understand the important role that abattoirs play. Funding will be vital to help the small abattoirs modernise and thrive. Their services are the cornerstone of sustainable, local meat supply chains.”

The SFT look forward to seeing the detail of the new funding and hope that other critical issues, around regulation and inspection in particular, are also tackled in the coming months.

The SFT has been campaigning alongside National Craft Butchers and Fir Farm since 2018 to reverse this trend. In 2020, the SFT was a co-founder of the Abattoir Sector Group, set up to provide a unified voice for the small and local abattoir sector. The ASG has since been working with government to address the issues small abattoirs face.

At today’s NFU Conference, Minister Spencer said: “If farming is to flourish then we need to get the fundamentals right – abattoirs are key to the food supply chain and there is clearly a need to support smaller providers in this area.

The availability of funding will help abattoirs to invest in new technology and improve productivity and animal health and welfare, allowing our agriculture sector to get its high-quality produce to market.”

There has been a catastrophic decline in small abattoir numbers in recent years, with most recent estimates showing only 49 small red meat abattoirs remain in England, Wales and Scotland. If closures continued at the current rate, none would be operating by 2030.

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