The Sustainable Food Trust 2018 report, A Good Life and A Good Death: Relocalising Farm Animal Slaughter found that the UK’s network of small local abattoirs is near collapse. The report sets out the reasons for these closures and states that, without urgent action, there will be a huge loss of consumer choice because the marketing of locally-produced, traceable meat will no longer be possible in many parts of the country.
The SFT called on the Government to:
- Make a clear statement of support that it recognises the vital importance of smaller abattoirs, and make this a matter of practical policy across all government departments and agencies;
- Work constructively with interested parties to make possible the use of mobile and small static red meat abattoirs for on-farm slaughtering;
- Set up a task force with joint government, industry and consumer representation, to establish why small abattoirs are closing and propose innovative and practical solutions to ensure their survival.
Local abattoirs play a vital role in all rural communities where farm animals are kept. When they close, both animals and meat have to be transported much further. This is bad for animal welfare and bad for the environment. It also threatens the ongoing renaissance of local food cultures. On my own organic farm, I have had to change abattoirs nine times over the last 30 years in order to keep our farm shop supplied with the meat from our own animals, as seven of those closest to me have closed and two became unsuitable for other reasons. I now have to take our animals almost 40 miles to get them slaughtered and it costs a great deal to get the carcases delivered back to our shop.
SFT Policy Director, Richard Young
Abattoir Sector Group
Our Campaign for Local Abattoirs began in 2018 with National Craft Butchers and support from other organisations including the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and Pasture-Fed Livestock Association. This contributed to an inquiry undertaken by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare whose 2020 report recommended the creation of an Abattoir Sector Group (ASG). We co-founded the ASG later that year and work closely with the other members of the steering group to provide a unified voice for the small and local abattoir sector and advise government on behalf of the industry.
Steering group members include:
- Sustainable Food Trust
- All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare
- National Craft Butchers
- Animal Health and Welfare Board for England
- Prince’s Countryside Fund
- Rare Breeds Survival Trust
- Pasture for Life
Swan Song of the Local Abattoir
This film by Alexandra Genova tells the story of William Lloyd Williams, a charismatic Welshman who battled to keep his local meat purveyor business open for 40 years. Williams reared animals, slaughtered them and sold them in the butchers shop in Machynlleth, mid-Wales. Sadly, his business has since closed.
This film is a rare documentation of independent meat production through the eyes of a cattleman-cum-slaughterman, at one of the most crucial times in UK farming history.
The Future of UK Farming Conference, 2018
This session explored the importance of small abattoirs and on-farm slaughter, with speakers including Professor Tim Morris, Bob Kennard, John Mettrick, Robin Tuke, Natasha Jenkins and Paddy Hoare.
Oxford Real Farming Conference, 2020
Our session, Saving Small Abattoirs, features talks from Richard Young, Sustainable Food Trust, Christopher Price, Rare Breed Survival Trust, John Mettrick, National Craft Butchers, Callum Edge, Edge Butchers and Glen Portman, Food Standards Agency
Oxford Real Farming Conference, 2019
This session, chaired by Lady Parker of Fir Farm, featured talks by Nick Allen, British Meat Processors Association, John Mettrick, National Craft Butchers, Bob Kennard, Campaign for Local Abattoirs and Nick Palmer, Compassion in World Farming.