Local abattoirs campaign: ‘Gove appears to be listening’

The Campaign for Local Abattoirs has welcomed the comments by Michael Gove on the future of small abattoirs.

The Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said on Wednesday (March 27) that his department (Defra) was looking into the possibility of intervention for keeping smaller abattoirs open and operating.

“This is a very positive 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,” said Richard Young, policy director at the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT), one of the groups that co-founded the campaign.

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,” continued Young.

He argued that, where live animals and meat have to travel further for processing, it becomes uneconomical for some farmers to continue marketing their meat, which threatens the viability of the farm.

Speaking to the select committee on environment, food and rural affairs, secretary 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.”

Meanwhile, National Craft Butchers (NCB), the other group that co-founded the campaign, also welcomed the secretary’s comments.

“We have seen seven small abattoirs close within the last year, and more closures will follow if help is not forthcoming,” said John Mettrick, president of the NCB.

“There are now less than 100 small abattoirs left in England and Wales, eight in Scotland and none in Northern Ireland, and in the current climate it is very difficult for them to make ends meet,” he argued.