by Countryside Alliance

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare has published a new report on small abattoirs.

APGAW has released a report following an inquiry looking into the provision of abattoirs after concerns were raised that large numbers of small abattoirs had closed taking away options for slaughter for small scale farmers and forcing them to use large processing plants.

Among those taking part in the inquiry, was the Alliance’s President, The Baroness Mallalieu QC.

A key extract from the report's findings: "There were 30,000 registered abattoirs in the 1930s and there are just under 250 today. In the early 1990s there were 22,000 butchers’ shops, now there are roughly 6,000. Additionally, 15 years ago, there were nine times as many small farms as there are today. These contractions have happened at a time when the UK population has increased and so it is likely meat demand has also increased. In 2018 a total of 19,718,680 animals were slaughtered across 248 operating plants but 32 abattoirs in England slaughtered 88% all of the sheep, while just 19 abattoirs slaughtered 73% of all cattle."

Lord Trees, co-chairman of the All-Party Group for Animal Welfare which conducted the inquiry, said: “We urge Government to recognise the critical role small abattoirs play in the farming industry and to take immediate action to prevent further closures. Small abattoirs support local production of food, benefiting animal welfare with shorter journeys and enabling the return of the product to the farmer, providing food provenance, consumer choice and the opportunity to add value. This supports the Government’s agenda to end long-distance transport for animals, tackle climate change, and help livestock farmers, especially in upland areas, to be economically self-sustaining.”


The report a number of recommendations to sustain small abattoirs as a choice for farmers, including:

  1. Small abattoirs contributing to the public goods of animal welfare and environmental benefits should be recognised and eligible for capital payments in any future agricultural support framework. 
  2. Government should ensure that public bodies and, in particular, economic partnerships or forums see small abattoirs as essential infrastructure supporting the rural economy.
  3. Funding waste disposal or re-usage technology within small abattoirs should be included in the Government’s criteria for capital payments under environmental schemes and integrated with initiatives such as the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
  4. A CMA inquiry into waste collection as slaughterhouses continue to lose huge sums on hides and skins.
  5. Government should consider low capacity abattoirs processing under 1,000 LSUs and running alongside other farming and processing activities being deemed agricultural buildings with respect to business rates and building control, subject of course to planning conditions necessary for local community protection.

Sarah Lee, Head of Policy at the Countryside Alliance said: “The Countryside Alliance welcomes this report by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare. We have long campaigned for the small abattoirs to get the recognition they deserve for the crucial role they play in the food supply chain. That role will only become more important if ban on live animal exports is introduced. We cannot have a situation arise where livestock travel excessively long journeys here in the UK, if small abattoirs cannot be used for processing. We will continue to campaign for small abattoirs - a vital and crucial resource for farmers across the country.”

She added: “ There is clearly a demand for local produce, but without a network of small abattoirs, UK livestock will still have to travel longer distances. When the purpose of wanting to end live exports is to reduce distress caused to animals, it seems wrong to ignore the reality we face in this country. We may well be in a situation where animals cannot be transported from Dover to Calais but they can be moved from Liverpool to Belfast. This would be illogical. The need for the government to invest in small abattoirs couldn’t be more important.” 


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