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Abattoirs And Slaughterhouses

Volume 407: debated on Thursday 19 June 2003

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What measures her Department is taking to support small and medium-sized abattoirs and slaughterhouses. [120200]

We are encouraging the use of investment grants within the England rural development programme to help to improve the abattoir industry's structure, processing and marketing. We are committing resources to the Meat Industry Forum and are actively participating in its work to improve the competitiveness of red meat food chains.

The problems associated with the reduction in the number of small abattoirs have been well rehearsed, and many existing abattoirs are concerned about the impact of the animal by-products regulations. What is being done to help the smaller slaughterhouses, for which the cost of disposing of blood will rise from £16 per tonne to £60 to £80 per tonne?

We are helping, and working with, the industry to develop an action plan to address some of these issues. As I have said, grants are available within the England rural development programme to help smaller abattoirs become more competitive. I accept that things are not easy for small abattoirs; indeed, this has long been a difficult issue. We must help and support the market, rather than looking for a magic wand to take away those problems.