UK Government announces support for smaller abattoirs
The Government has confirmed it plans to introduce funding to promote enhanced productivity, innovation and improved animal health and welfare in smaller abattoirs.
National Craft Butchers said it was delighted to hear Farming Minister Mark Spencer confirm this at the NFU’s annual conference. Details are to be released later in the year.
NCB and its members have been at the forefront of fighting for small abattoirs for over 20 years, cofounding the Campaign for Local Abattoirs with the SFT in 2018 before becoming founding members of the Abattoir Sector Group.
Its 2021 Abattoir survey highlighted the issues faced by small abattoirs and provided a clear message from abattoirs owners that the issues most likely to cause closures were current regulatory burden, closely followed by economics (lack of capital) and staffing shortages.
National Craft Butchers said it looks forward to the detail regarding the new funding later this year and hopes that the recognition of ‘the key part’ abattoirs – especially small abattoirs – play in the supply chain will be carried forward into the ongoing work to review the one size fits all approach to regulation, which has led to many small abattoir closures.
Farming Minister Mark Spencer, speaking at the NFU conference 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.”
At a recent roundtable, attended by NCB members the minister met with the sector and discussed the issues it is facing.
The new funding, which is due to be announced in full later this year, is proposed to help those abattoirs to add value by supporting the availability of local produce, providing specific equipment to support the rearing of rare and native breeds, encouraging rural employment and safeguarding the food supply chain through a diverse and productive abattoir sector.
National Sheep Association’s chief executive, Phil Stocker also welcomed the news: “NSA is extremely pleased to see an appreciation of the importance of small abattoirs to local communities and to ensuring a sustainable supply chain. More than a fifth of the abattoir network has been lost over the last decade, with several closing in the last 12 months due to supply chain pressure, labour shortages, rising productions cost and increases in the cost of power.”
He continued: “A key component in the Government’s Food Strategy is that healthy and sustainable food should be sourced as locally as possible – yet the capacity to do this is escaping communities quicker than that policy can be enacted. NSA has been asking for some time for the Government to support and incentivise investment in our supply chain infrastructure and is extremely pleased to see this appreciation for locally produced and procured food.
“NSA welcomes further detail and urges the Government to enact incentives and funding as soon as possible, to ensure the closure of further businesses can be avoided.”