Scottish govt overlooking local abattoir crisis, charity warns

Campaigners have frequently warned of Scotland's dwindling red meat abattoir network, with only 26 sites left
Campaigners have frequently warned of Scotland's dwindling red meat abattoir network, with only 26 sites left

Two major Scottish government consultations on food and farming strategy failed to recognise the need to address the local abattoir crisis, campaigners have warned.

Both the Agricultural Transition in Scotland and the Local Food for Everyone consultation did not raise attention to the decline of the country's local abattoir network.

The latest figures by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) show that Scotland only has 26 red meat abattoirs left.

In response, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has written to Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, highlighting its concern.

The charity works for the survival of the UK’s rare native breeds of livestock and equines.

In its recent survey, 42% of respondents based in Scotland warned that ‘lack of a suitable abattoir’ was one of their top greatest barriers to growing their rare breed business.

And in October, the future of Scotland’s local abattoir network was the subject of much concern in the RBST’s Big Debate at the Scottish Smallholders Festival.

RBST chief executive Christopher Price said the decline of the local abattoir network in Scotland had created a 'serious obstacle' to sustainable farming and local food networks.

"Both of the Scottish government’s recent consultation papers on the future of farming and local food have overlooked this vital issue," he said.

“One of the biggest challenges for sustainable livestock farmers, and keepers of rare and native breeds in particular, is finding an appropriate abattoir for their animals."

Mr Price said a network of future facing, resilient local abattoirs was crucial for farming with Scotland's native breeds, like the Aberdeen Angus and Highland cattle.

He added that these breeds played an important role in supporting Scotland’s biodiversity and food production.

“Improving abattoir provision requires a partnership between farmers and government," Mr Price explained.

"Farmers working for the long term and government offering one off investment to prepare the sector to thrive in a more market facing world.

"I urge the Cabinet Secretary to ensure that the path towards the local abattoir network that Scotland needs is central to the development of local food and farming strategies.”