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End to Locally-sourced Meat?

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A report from the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) describes the UK’s small local abattoirs as close to collapse. Over the last ten years more than a third have closed, with just 63 now remaining in England (down from 96 in 2007). This, together with the resulting high financial, environmental and welfare cost of transporting relatively small numbers of livestock ever greater distances for slaughter, could mean the end of locally-produced, traceable meat in parts of the UK. Reasons for the continuing closures are said to include disproportionately high burdens of regulation imposed on small abattoirs, falling cattle numbers nationally, and the low profitability of the sector due to the increasing dominance of supermarkets. The SFT is calling on government to make support for smaller abattoirs a matter of policy across government; to make possible the use of mobile and small static red meat abattoirs for on-farm slaughtering; and to come up with innovative and practical solutions to ensure the long-term survival of remaining small abattoirs. A number of countries have mobile abattoirs operating within tight regulatory regimes that enhance animal welfare and biosecurity, and such a scheme could suit the needs of many smaller producer-retailers. Richard Young, SFT policy director and a co-author of the report, described the closures as bad for animal welfare, bad for the environment, and a threat to the ongoing renaissance of local food cultures. He poignantly went on to say: “On my own organic farm, I have had to change abattoirs nine times over the last 30 years in order to keep our farm shop supplied with the meat from our own animals, as seven of those closest to me have closed and two became unsuitable for other reasons.” The report, A Good Life and a Good Death – Re-localising farm animal Slaughter, can be downloaded at

About the Author:

Paul Melnyczuk is editor of Home Farmer, and together with Ruth Tott is the founder of the company. His Ukrainian father and Austrian mother came over in the 1950s, and he was raised near Accrington (of Stanley fame) in Lancashire. With a degree in European Literature and a year spent living in Sweden, and a further 2 years in the Sudan, his background is rich and varied.

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