Calls for small abattoirs to be recognised
The Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) is calling for small abattoirs to be recognised as a ‘public good’, and for grants to be made available to help with the cost of installing CCTV and additional structural improvements.
At present, these are only available to the 15 smallest abattoirs in Wales, with the Welsh Government having provided £1.1 million in funding specifically for this purpose.
The cost of installing CCTV in small abattoirs is very much higher per animal than in large abattoirs.
SFT says it recognises the potential benefits of CCTV in abattoirs in preventing welfare abuses, but it is calling on animal rights and animal welfare groups, which have complained that some abattoirs have not yet installed CCTV, to recognise the genuine problems currently faced by many smaller abattoirs.
Richard Young, SFT policy director said, “Animal welfare groups are not acting in the best interests of animal welfare in piling yet more pressure on the few remaining small abattoirs that have still to install CCTV.
“I fully understand their concern about the factory scale of the slaughtering industry and the abuses that have occurred, and it is clear that the Government is very sensitive to their demands. But they are actually helping to drive the last few small abattoirs out of business.
“These are small family-run businesses where animals are treated as individuals and do not have to endure long journeys.”
The UK’s smallest abattoirs are said to be currently facing an unprecedented crisis. Many of them are losing money and find it hard to see how this will change.
This means that a significant proportion of those that have not yet installed CCTV, need Government assistance to prevent them being forced to close.
There are now only 56 small red meat abattoirs left in the UK, with a third having closed between 2007 and 2017 and a further seven closing this year.
The crisis is said to be due in part to a collapse in the value of hides and skins, with small abattoirs currently being paid as little as £4.50 for cattle hides and 10p for sheep skins, compared with £35 and £6.50 respectively a few years ago.
Young added, “We’d really welcome it if animal rights and welfare organisations would meet with us and discuss these issues openly.
“They have done some good in shining a light on the abuses that have occurred, but if they really care about animal welfare they will come to understand that the smallest abattoirs desperately need public support at the moment, not further criticism just for cheap headlines.”