7 June 2002

Co-operation is key to keeping abattoirs alive

IF farmers want the abattoir system in the south-east to improve they will have to co-operate with each other and people further along the supply chain, according to Meat and Livestock Commission regional manager Nick Allen.

Mr Allen has been seconded to the South East England Development Agency to work on an action plan for livestock revival in the area.

It follows the publication of a report into the issue in February 2002 which concluded a strategic core network of small and medium-sized abattoirs, with cutting and chilling facilities, was needed in the region.

Mr Allen told farmers weekly if abattoirs could improve their cutting and processing facilities it would help farmers running small enterprises or those wanting to get involved in local marketing schemes.

But achieving this goal was likely to require farmers linking up with existing abattoirs as this was the only way to free up much-needed grant assistance.

"Only if farmers co-operate will the necessary funding be released to invest in much needed chilling and cutting facilities," he said.

"The best hope of accessing grant money is to co-operate with each other and demonstrate a wider benefit for the project."

Mr Allen said he was confident that a number of new low-throughput abattoirs would appear in the region despite protesters managing to halt plans for a mini-abattoir near Henfield in West Sussex earlier in the year.

Plans had been put forward to establish a low throughput abattoir at Blackstone Gate Wood, Woodmancote. But local opposition eventually forced the applicant to withdraw his planning application.

However, Mr Allen warned that he was not as confident about the establishment of a new medium-sized abattoir. "Theres a basic will for it to happen but turning that will into reality is difficult." &#42

Join forces… Nick Allen says co-operation is vital to improving abattoir facilities.