SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT officials have been accused of not acting fast enough to address the decline of the local abattoir network in Scotland.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust has written to Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon, to share its concerns that two major Scottish Government consultations on food and farming strategy have 'failed' to recognise the need to address the local abattoir crisis.

One of the biggest challenges for native and rare breed farmers is finding an appropriate abattoir for their animals, as many of the larger scale ones are single-species and don't cater for non-standard animals such as horned cattle or larger pigs.

In the RBST Commercial Trends survey undertaken in July 2021, 42% of respondents based in Scotland warned that ‘lack of a suitable abattoir’ is one of their top three greatest barriers to growing their rare breed business.

The future of Scotland’s local abattoir network was also the subject of much concern in the RBST’s Big Debate at the Scottish Smallholders Festival im October, with contributors calling for capital investment in a local abattoir network which caters for private kills and non-standard animals.

Read more - Logic lacking in local abattoir debate

RBST chief executive Christopher Price said: “The decline of the local abattoir network in Scotland has created a serious obstacle to sustainable farming and local food networks, but both of the Scottish Government’s recent consultation papers on the future of farming and local food have overlooked this vital issue.

“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. We are now down to just 26 red meat abattoirs, according to Quality Meat Scotland. A network of future facing, resilient local abattoirs is crucial for farming with the native breeds of livestock like the Aberdeen Angus and Highland cattle which play such an important role in supporting Scotland’s biodiversity and are also stars of Scottish food," he continued.

“Improving abattoir provision requires a partnership between farmers and government, with 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 for Rural Affairs and Islands to ensure that the path towards the local abattoir network that Scotland needs is central to the development of local food and farming strategies.”