Carmichael calls for reversal of abattoir centralisation in food security debate

19 Mar 2024

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today called for a reversal in trends towards centralised abattoirs for meat production in the UK, during a debate in Parliament on food security. In the debate, led by Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Dyke, Mr Carmichael noted the challenges for red meat producers in accessing abattoirs close to the point of production, and suggested that reversing the trend of centralisation “would allow a regrowth of smaller abattoirs”.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Carmichael said:

“One of the biggest barriers, particularly for red meat producers, to putting produce into a local supply chain is the inability to get it slaughtered close to the point of production. Does my hon. Friend agree that ending the ever-increasing move towards larger, centralised abattoirs would allow a regrowth of smaller abattoirs closer to the point of production, which is better for animal welfare, carbon emissions and, ultimately, for producers being able to access that much more diverse range of markets?”

Responding, Sarah Dyke MP said:

“I thank my right hon. Friend for his comments. As the owner of a small flock of fine Shetland sheep, I do understand the challenges of accessing a local abattoir, not only a local one but one able to help with the services that small producers require.”

Reacting after the debate, Mr Carmichael said:

“The case for local farming and local food production being treated as a public good is only getting stronger – and the need to reverse trends towards centralised abattoirs is just another example of that. In both the UK and Scottish governments we need to see the return of local abattoirs as the goal, and adjust policies accordingly to allow this. It took years of effort to put isles lamb and beef on the map – we cannot let those efforts go to waste.”

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