Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Applications open for new £4 million fund to support smaller abattoirs [December 2023]

The press release issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 13 December 2023.

The Smaller Abattoir Fund opens with £4 million available to support smaller red meat and poultry abattoirs across England.

The government has today (Wednesday 13 December) launched the £4 million Smaller Abattoir Fund to boost the sustainability and efficiency of red meat and poultry smaller abattoirs across England.

The smaller abattoir sector has an important role in maintaining British food security and ensures a competitive route to market is available to farmers, especially those who supply local butchers and farm shops, for a wide range of meat products. They make it easier for farmers to get their products to market, protect animal welfare by maintaining reduced journey times to slaughter, provide a route to market for farmers who rear rare and native breeds, and offer wider social and economic benefits to rural communities.

The Smaller Abattoir Fund will award capital grants from £2,000 up to a maximum of £60,000 to help support smaller abattoirs across England improve productivity, enhance animal health and welfare, add value to primary products, and encourage innovation and investment in new technologies.

It will support the purchase of a diverse range of capital investments, including items such as cold storage units which can expand refrigeration capacity for processing, allowing abattoirs to increase production rates and help remove the waiting times experienced by many farmers for getting stock processed.

The Fund also drives forward the government’s commitment to advancing animal health and welfare standards, including funding to improve facilities for stressed or fatigued animals to recover from loading and transport operations.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will email all eligible smaller abattoirs directly within the coming days, outlining the application process.

Farming Minister Mark Spencer said:

England’s abattoirs are critical to livestock farmers who provide their high-quality products to local butchers and farm shops up and down the country.

This £4 million fund will not only help smaller abattoir and mobile business owners to innovate, invest and improve standards, but it will give farmers, particularly those who produce native and rare breeds, more stability in getting their products to market.

Today’s announcement delivers on key commitments made on Back British Farming Day in September to identify opportunities to remove unnecessary burdens for smaller abattoirs, support farmers in reaching local and international markets, and ensure that farmers are being paid a fair price for their products.

It also builds on government efforts to increase fairness in the supply chain as set out at the Farm to Fork Summit earlier this year, with new regulations for the dairy and pig sectors to be introduced next year, a consultation on the egg sector currently live and a consultation on horticulture supply chains launching shortly.

John Mettrick, Chair of the Abattoir Sector Group said:

I am delighted that the Smaller Abattoir Fund has launched. This demonstrates that the government recognises the importance of small abattoirs to farmers, butchers, and the whole rural supply chain.

This fund has been developed by Defra, the Food Standards Agency, the Abattoir Sector Group and the meat industry working together, and I would urge abattoir businesses to take advantage of the fund to help develop their businesses for the future.

Susan Jebb, Chair of the Food Standards Agency said:

The Food Standards Agency recognises the challenges faced by small abattoirs and has collaborated with Defra on the development of the Smaller Abattoir Fund.

We are keen to support the use of the fund to improve efficiency, productivity, animal welfare and innovation in this greatly valued and important sector.

The application window for the Smaller Abattoir Fund will remain open for nine months and abattoirs will be able to submit up to three applications up to the maximum funding level of £60,000. A diverse list of capital investments has been developed in close consultation with industry stakeholders – recognising the bespoke nature of abattoirs, this list is not definitive and additional investments may be eligible if applicants can evidence that the item demonstrates compliance with at least one of the Fund’s aims.


Notes to Editor:

Eligibility Criteria:

  • When applying for the fund, applicants will need to clearly demonstrate how the item or project they would like to be funded fits in to one or more of the Fund’s outlined aims to: Improve productivity; Enhance animal health and welfare; Add value to primary products; And encourage innovation and investment in new technologies.
  • If successful in the application, Defra will make up 40% of the cost of the item an abattoir applied for.
  • The Fund will be a criteria based scheme. Provided applicants meet the scheme criteria, they will be eligible for support. The detailed eligibility criteria will be provided to applicants when the Fund opens.
  • The application window will be open for 9 months (until 30 September 2024 or until all the money has been allocated to successful applications).
  • Eligible applicants may submit up to three applications, with a total cap of £60,000 per abattoir business across all applications. The minimum grant that can be applied for is £2,000. Detailed information on capital investments by category, aligned with the fund’s goals, will be provided within the application materials.
  • The SAF will be accessible to FSA-approved mobile and static red meat and poultry abattoirs in England only. Applicant abattoirs, not the businesses that own them, must be physically situated in England, or in the case of mobile abattoirs, operate only in England. This covers both producer and privately owned abattoirs.
  • The SAF will be open to red meat abattoirs processing up to and including 10,000 farmed livestock units (LSU) per annum (i.e., bovines, sheep, goats, pigs, farmed venison), and poultry abattoirs slaughtering up to and including 500,000 birds per annum (i.e., chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, capons, hens). Throughput will be calculated using FSA quality assured throughput data for the 2022 calendar year.
  • Each individual business will count as a single applicant rather than the individual abattoirs themselves, and each business will only be eligible to apply for the maximum grant (£60k), regardless of the number of smaller abattoirs they may own. Businesses already in receipt of other public funds may also be restricted in the amount of funding they can apply for, in line with the UK’s Subsidy Control Act.
  • An application must not relate to items or a project in an abattoir for which the investment is to be installed or used is subject to ongoing enforcement action or a related prosecution with conviction in the previous 12-month period. In these cases, such items will be deemed ineligible for funding.