The Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) and National Craft Butchers (NCB), which jointly set up the Campaign for Local Abattoirs, have welcomed comments from the Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove MP, to the EFRA Select Committee yesterday on the future for small abattoirs.
Michael Gove said, “A number of people have made [a]strong and articulate case for the survival of smaller abattoirs and one of the things we are looking at is whether or not there should be direct intervention in order to help smaller abattoirs survive, that is something under active consideration at the moment.”
In response, Richard Young, SFT policy director, said, “This is a very encouraging indication that the Secretary of State has been listening to our concerns and we hope the government will see this through before more small abattoirs have to close. Every time another small abattoir is forced out of business it has major impacts for the farmers who used that abattoir.”
“Many farmers, especially those in environmental stewardship and agri-environment schemes, depend on being able to market the meat from their animals locally, and for them the availability of a local abattoir is essential. Where these close, live animals and meat have to travel further, and it becomes uneconomical for some farmers to continue marketing their own meat. This in turn can threaten the viability of their whole farm business.”
John Mettrick, NCB’s President, said, “We welcome the Secretary of State’s indication that providing help to small abattoirs is under active consideration within Defra. We have seen seven small abattoirs close within the last year and more closures will follow if help is not forthcoming. The amounts needed to save the industry are extremely small in comparison with the amounts made available to agriculture generally.”
“There are now less than 100 small abattoirs left in England and Wales, 8 in Scotland and none in Northern Ireland, and in the current climate it is very difficult for them to make ends meet. Since it costs about £1 million to set up a small abattoir from scratch it will be far more cost-effective to save existing abattoirs than be forced to build new ones in future.”