A Small Abattoir fund will open by the end of this year, providing £4m of funding in England to help improve productivity, enhance animal health and welfare and encourage investment in new technologies in vital local plants.
Small abattoirs have come under increased pressure in recent, highlighted by a 20% reduction in the number of low-capacity abattoirs in the last decade, often making it harder for livestock farmers to find viable outlets.
Farming Minister Mark Spencer announced Defra would introduce a scheme to support these businesses, and more details were announced during last week’s Back British Farming Day as part of a wider announcement.
The £4m fund will will be open to red meat and poultry businesses with an annual throughput of up to 10,000 livestock units including beef, pork and lamb, and/or 500,000 birds per year.
Defra said the funding would make it easier for them to operate and support farmers in reaching local and international markets.
Announcing the scheme in February, Mr Spencer said abattoirs are key to the food supply chain and there is clearly a need to support smaller providers in this area. “A network of smaller abattoirs distributed around the country is crucial to supporting the rural economy, enabling farmers to sell their own meat in farm shops and maintaining good animal health and welfare through reduced journey times to slaughter,” he said.
The fund was described by the NFU as ‘positive news’ for British farmers, alongside other announcements from Defra Secretary Thérèse Coffey, which also included support for a ‘buy British button’ in online supermarket shopping, a new grant scheme for rooftop solar panel installation and confirmation that farmers enrolling in new environmental support schemes will be able to use them to meet public procurement standards.