The National Sheep Association (NSA) is calling on the government to provide more support to aid the survival of small and medium-sized businesses relating to farming and food.

From agricultural seed companies to livestock processors, the NSA aim to highlight the issue of large companies dominating agricultural markets, compared to the many smaller firms that traditionally played such an important part in the sector.

The NSA credits this as the reason that many businesses close, and it references the recent closure of a 100-year-old Mettrick’s abattoir in the North of England.

NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker, said; “Although newly announced energy support packages will have come as welcome relief for many, the government must realise the ongoing severity of the situation, especially within the small abattoir sector.”

“During the period between 2019 and 2021, the sector has seen the closure of 14 abattoirs and already this year we have seen more added to that list,” he said.

“The largest 24 meat processing plants control 85% of the throughput.

“As an industry, there is a desperate need to support small and medium-sized businesses to ensure that there is a capacity and a service for rural locations at a time when interest in localising supply chains is growing.”

Stocker referenced the Government Food Strategy outlined in June, which had a range of aspirations to improve the food systems within the UK.

The chief executive reiterated the point in the food strategy outline that “healthy and sustainable food should be sourced as locally as possible”.

This, Stocker believes, is becoming harder and harder for communities “quicker than government policy can be enacted”.

“NSA urges the government to support and incentivise the investment in our own supply chain infrastructure before it is too late,” Stocker said.

“It is disappointing to see the disconnect in government farming schemes often incentivising diversification and local sourcing yet there is little to no action in maintaining the means to deliver these outcomes.”