Defra launches £4m Smaller Abattoir Fund
14th Dec 2023 / By Alistair Driver
Defra has launched a £4 million fund to support smaller red meat and poultry abattoirs across England.
The Smaller Abattoir Fund will provide grants of between £2,000 and £60,000 for eligible businesses to help improve productivity, animal health and welfare, increase value to primary products, and encourage innovative technologies.
Originally announced in February, it will 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.”
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.
“This demonstrates that the government recognises the importance of small abattoirs to farmers, butchers, and the whole rural supply chain,” he said.
“This fund has been developed by Defra, the Food Standards Agency, the Abattoir Sector Group and the meat industry working together, and I would urge abattoir businesses to take advantage of the fund to help develop their businesses for the future.”
Megan Perry, head of policy and campaigns at the sustainable food trust said small abattoirs were the ‘cornerstone’ of local meat supply chains, providing infrastructure to make a nationwide transition to sustainable farming practice.
“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.”
Rare Breeds Survival Trust chief executive Christopher Price said: “A comprehensive network of local abattoirs able to process small numbers of non-standard animals and return both the carcass and by-products, is vital for native breed farmers supplying their high quality, sustainable produce into their local food chains and beyond. But over the past few decades as a result of increasing costs and regulations this network has been in sustained, serious decline.
“Today’s launch of the Smaller Abattoir Fund offers a lifeline for these facilities to ensure they are match fit for an increasingly market-facing world through, for example, investing in digital opportunities that can help reduce running costs, and up to date capital equipment to improve productivity.”
About the fund
- Applicants will need to clearly demonstrate how the item or project they would like to be funded fits in to one or more of the Fund’s outlined aims to: improve productivity; enhance animal health and welfare; add value to primary products and encourage innovation and investment in new technologies.
- Defra will make up 40% of the cost of the item an abattoir applied for.
- The Fund will be a criteria based scheme. Provided applicants meet the scheme criteria, they will be eligible for support. The detailed eligibility criteria will be provided to applicants when the Fund opens.
- The application window will be open for 9 months (until 30 September 2024 or until all the money has been allocated to successful applications).
- Eligible applicants may submit up to three applications, with a total cap of £60,000 per abattoir business across all applications. The minimum grant that can be applied for is £2,000.
- The SAF will be accessible to FSA-approved mobile and static red meat and poultry abattoirs in England only. Applicant abattoirs, not the businesses that own them, must be physically situated in England, or in the case of mobile abattoirs, operate only in England. This covers both producer and privately owned abattoirs.
- The SAF will be open to red meat abattoirs processing up to and including 10,000 farmed livestock units (LSU) per annum (ie bovines, sheep, goats, pigs, farmed venison), and poultry abattoirs slaughtering up to and including 500,000 birds per annum (ie chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, capons, hens). Throughput will be calculated using FSA quality assured throughput data for the 2022 calendar year.