The government has launched a £4 million fund to boost the sustainability of smaller red meat and poultry abattoirs across England.
Those eligible will be granted between £2,000 to £60,000 to help improve productivity, animal health and welfare, increasing value to primary products, and encouraging innovative technologies.
It will also support capital investments like cold storage units, which can expand refrigeration capacity, allowing for less waiting times and increased production rates.
Farming Minister Mark Spencer said: “England’s abattoirs are critical to livestock farmers who provide their high-quality products to local butchers and farm shops up and down the country.
“This £4 million fund will not only help smaller abattoir and mobile business owners to innovate, invest and improve standards, but it will give farmers, particularly those who produce native and rare breeds, more stability in getting their products to market.”
It builds on the government’s aim to advance animal health and welfare standards, as well as remove unnecessary burdens for smaller abattoirs, as pledged on Back British Farming Day in September.
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will email all eligible smaller abattoirs in coming days, outlining the application process.
The fund has been positively received, with John Mettrick, the chair of the abattoir sector group, urging abattoirs to take advantage of the fund to help develop their business in the future.
Head of policy and campaigns at the sustainable food trust, Megan Perry, said that small abattoirs are the “cornerstone” of local meat supply chains, providing infrastructure to make a nationwide transition to sustainable farming practice.
She explained the problems they have been facing: “There has been a catastrophic decline in small abattoirs, with businesses closing at a rate of 10% per year. This has caused havoc for farming and local meat businesses and has resulted in animals travelling increasingly long distances to slaughter.
“If we are to build a truly sustainable and resilient food system here in the UK then we need the infrastructure to support it. This fund is crucial to achieving this and we thank all those involved with bringing it about.”
The application window is open for nine months, and a full list of eligibility criteria can be found here.