The Abattoir Sector Group has been formed following the recommendation by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare’s (APGAW) report into ‘The Future for Small Abattoirs in the UK’.
The mission of the ASG is to support and develop a thriving network of local abattoirs across the UK, which is essential to maintain high animal welfare standards, support sustainable farming and meet the rising demand for local meat. The Group intends to do this by raising the importance of small abattoirs across Governments, ensuring they are included in all relevant policy formation, seeking access to funding and sharing best practice to help small abattoirs play a vital role in local food production. They will work with DEFRA, the FSA and any other relevant regulatory body to consider what tools can be used to support small abattoirs.
The ASG steering group includes members from across the U.K including the Sustainable Food Trust, Fir Farm, Rare Breeds Survival Trust, Prince’s Countryside Fund, National Craft Butchers, Animal Health & Welfare Board England and small abattoir operators based in England, Scotland and Wales. Dr Simon Docherty, British Veterinary Association past-president and Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast, is the chair, with small abattoir owner John Mettrick as vice chair.
Dr Doherty explains, “Our aim is to ensure policy makers consider the vital role these smaller scale abattoirs play in local food production and within wider commitments to lift welfare standards, increase sustainability and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.”
We are excited about ongoing work with the FSA, Defra and other governing bodies to ensure that local abattoirs are seen as one of the key elements if we are to meet Governments’ aims such as reducing live transport of animals and keeping our rural economies thriving, whilst transforming how we produce food in a more sustainable way. ASG will be working to ensure smaller abattoirs are part of the infrastructure to support local food systems and rural economies, will be promoting the reduction of bureaucracy and simplification of paperwork and will work to improve coordination across government departments.”
John Mettrick of National Craft Butchers stated, “A network of small abattoirs supports livestock farming and the development of small businesses, through the provision of ‘private kill’ and the easy return of livestock products to farmers and collaborators to add value to those products. Small abattoirs are also an essential link in the supply chain of local, traceable and high welfare meat, which has seen a significant rise in consumer demand.”
Patrick Holden, Chief Executive of the Sustainable Food Trust said, “After three years of campaigning for local abattoirs we strongly welcome the establishment of the new Abattoir Sector Group. Without a UK-wide network of small abattoirs, it will be impossible for farmers to deliver local, welfare friendly meat, with minimum distances to slaughter, which millions of people are now demanding.”