Calls for Government to help save small abattoirs
Speakers at the Oxford Real Farming Conference have urged the government to do more as small abattoirs continue to go out of business.
With four abattoirs closing down in the last 12 months and with another six said to be on the brink of closing, farmers and members of the meat industry have spoken out and encouraged the government to help tackle the issues facing small abattoirs, such as waste disposal costs, infrastructure costs, bureaucracy and regulations.
At the conference, the Sustainable Food Trust organised a session called, ‘Saving Small Abattoirs,’ chaired by SFT policy director Richard Young and featuring CEO of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust Christopher Price, and past president of National Craft Butchers, John Mettrick.
Christopher Price, CEO of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, said: “Without a local abattoir we simply cannot get our animals slaughtered and without that we have no market for them. We have lots of willing farmers who want to keep native breeds and lots of willing consumers who want to buy or eat native breeds. But we need the infrastructure and services that allow us to kill and process them.”
Research by the Campaign for Local Abattoirs found that nine small abattoirs surveyed were providing a service to more than 1,000 local farmers. The National Craft Butchers (NCB) represents independent butchers, some of whom have their own small abattoir. Speaking for them, Mettrick added: “We were getting £45 for cattle hides and £6.50 for sheep skins twenty years ago. We now get £1 for a hide if it’s in perfect condition and nothing for skins. It’s not difficult to do the maths on the 350 cattle and 3,000 lambs we slaughter each year.”
Mettrick continued: “It will be a terrible loss to local communities in rural areas if the Government allows small abattoirs to go out of business for the sake of a very small amount of financial assistance. What we need most urgently is a clear indication from the Government that help is on the way. At the moment small abattoir owners cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel.”