Launch of Smaller Abattoir Fund welcomed by campaigners

13 December 2023

The Smaller Abattoir Fund [1] has been launched today to provide grants to smaller red meat and poultry abattoirs in England. The launch of the fund sends a positive message that the Government recognises small abattoirs are an important part of the food supply chain. This fund will be a crucial step in securing the future of the sector and is part of wider efforts to address the many pressures causing small abattoirs to close.

John Mettrick, Chair of the Abattoir Sector Group [2] said: “I am delighted that the Smaller Abattoir Fund has launched. This demonstrates that the government recognises the importance of small abattoirs to farmers, butchers and the whole rural supply chain. This fund has been developed by DEFRA, the FSA, the Abattoir Sector Group and the meat industry working together. I would urge abattoir businesses to take advantage of the fund to help develop their businesses for the future.”

Megan Perry, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the Sustainable Food Trust, said: “Small abattoirs are the cornerstone of local meat supply chains, supporting farmers, local meat businesses and providing the critical infrastructure to make a nationwide transition to sustainable farming systems viable. There has been a catastrophic decline in small abattoirs, with businesses closing at a rate of 10% per year. This has caused havoc for farming and local meat businesses and has resulted in animals travelling increasingly long distances to slaughter. If we are to build a truly sustainable and resilient food system here in the UK then we need the infrastructure to support it. This fund is crucial to achieving this and we thank all those involved with bringing it about.”

The £4 million Smaller Abattoir Fund will provide grants for FSA approved red meat and poultry abattoirs, including mobile abattoirs, in England that slaughter up to 10,000 livestock units per annum for red meat abattoirs or up to 500,000 poultry birds (based on 2022 throughput data).

The grants will be for eligible capital items and investment projects with the aim of:

  • Improving productivity
  • Enhancing animal health and welfare
  • Adding value to primary products
  • Encouraging the introduction of innovative approaches and the use of new technologies

A list of capital investments will be published with the guidance documents, but there will also be opportunity for applicants to apply for additional investments if they can provide evidence that shows these items comply with the Fund’s aims, objectives and eligibility criteria.

Eleanor O’Brien, Managing Director of National Craft Butchers said: “National Craft Butchers fully support the government’s decision to establish a fund for small abattoirs. A robust network of abattoirs is crucial for our industry and plays a vital role in ensuring the high standards of animal welfare, food safety and traceability. As well as providing an essential service to farmers, butchers, and small-scale producers, they are also important employers in rural areas and contribute significantly to local economies. We commend the government for recognising the importance of small abattoirs and taking action to support their continued operation, we hope this is the first step towards ensuring their survival.”

Jimmy Woodrow, Executive Director of Pasture for Life said: “Farmers across the country who are making efforts to farm with nature face mounting challenges when it comes to accessing small to medium-sized abattoirs. While this new fund, announced by the government today, does not provide all the answers, it’s important the farming and processing sector come together to use the money to best effect. By doing this, we will be demonstrating a determination to tackle this problem and unlock future and more impactful solutions from government. Failure to do so risks further government inaction.”

The Abattoir Sector Group will support Government and industry to share the details of this fund as widely as possible and will be available to answer questions or direct people to the relevant support should they need advice about their application.

The Abattoir Sector Group will continue to work with Government to address the other issues affecting small abattoirs, including the need for risk based and proportionate regulation.

For more information, comment or interview, please get in touch.

Megan Perry, Head of Policy and Campaigns, Sustainable Food Trust


John Mettrick, Chair of the Abattoir Sector Group


Eleanor O’Brien, Managing Director of National Craft Butchers



[1] Full details of the Smaller Abattoir Fund can be found on the Defra website:

[2] The Abattoir Sector Group was established in 2020 to provide a unified voice for the small and local abattoir sector. Co-founders and current steering group members include AIMS, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, Fir Farm, M C Kelly Ltd, National Craft Butchers, Pasture for Life, Rare Breeds Survival Trust and the Sustainable Food Trust.