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Closure of Yorkshire Dales’s last abattoir ‘spells disaster’

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

The clsoure of McIntyre Meats could spell disaster for the food supply chain in Yorkshire. Image: Getty
The clsoure of McIntyre Meats could spell disaster for the food supply chain in Yorkshire. Image: Getty

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The imminent closure of Yorkshire Dales’s last small abattoir could spell disaster for the rural community and the wider food and drink supply chain, warned the Sustainable Food Trust.

Wensleydale-based McIntyre Meats will close its doors on 27 March after 23 years and is the latest in a string of closures over the past 2 years that has decimated the small abattoir community.

With each new closure, small meat businesses are forced to go further afield, putting even more pressure on the few remaining small abattoirs trying to accommodate increasing numbers.

Megan Perry, head of policy and campaigns for the Sustainable Food Trust, said the wide-scale loss of local meat supply chains was pushing the UK towards an increasingly centralised, consolidated system, dominated by supermarkets and a few, very large slaughtering and processing operations.

‘Bad for animal welfare’

“Animals are being taken on increasingly long journeys, in some cases as many as 200 miles, to be slaughtered,”​ said Perry. “This is bad for animal welfare, bad for the environment and bad for customers who want to buy local meat.”

“The closure of small abattoirs is a cross-cutting issue and is incompatible with the Government’s public health, environmental and food security agendas. Concentrating meat supply into fewer and larger operators could spell disaster.”

Perry called on industry experts, local authorities and abattoir users to work on a coordinated approach to find solutions for areas that have lost their abattoirs, highlighting the ‘Save Long Compton Campaign’ as one such example that could serve as inspiration for Yorkshire.

Abattoir Sector Group chair John Mettrick said it wasn’t surprising that small abattoirs are saying ‘enough is enough’ and calling it a day in the face of low returns and poorly designed regulation.

‘Reforms needed now’

“This is why the reform of regulations for small abattoirs is so important,”​ he added. “It’s inevitable that due to location and the value of land on some existing abattoir sites that some will close due to the commercial value for housing or other land uses.

“While regulation reform will continue to be a focus, a fund to build new small abattoirs to service the local meat supply chain will be needed in addition to the Smaller Abattoir Fund that can only help existing premises.”

The Government has attempted to help struggling abattoirs with the launch of its £4m Smaller Abattoir Fund in December last year​. It will provide grants for Food Standards Agency approved red meat and poultry abattoirs – including mobile abattoirs – in England that slaughter up to 10,000 livestock units per annum for red meat abattoirs or up to 500,000 poultry birds.

Grants will be available to businesses with eligible capital items and investment projects with the aim of improving productivity, enhancing animal health and welfare, adding value to primary products and encouraging the introduction of innovative approaches and the use of new technologies.

Related topics Meat, poultry & seafood Operations

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