Huw has been involved in trying to find a solution to the lack of local and small abattoir provision in the south east since he received the news that the last remaining abattoir in East Sussex has decided to close from the end of January 2023.
In November 2022, local farmers, butchers, food producers and the High Weald AONB contacted Huw following the news that a small abattoir based in Broad Oak near Heathfield, would be closing from the end of January. They were deeply concerned about the impact of this closure on their businesses and animal welfare.
The Broad Oak abattoir was the last remaining abattoir in East Sussex. The next nearest abattoirs are in Tunbridge Wells, Kent and Henfield, West Sussex. The closure will impact over 500 local farmers who will now need to travel much further for abattoir services. These longer journey times impact farmers' time, transport costs and the welfare of their animals.
On hearing the news about the closure, Huw immediately spoke to the Farming Minister, Mark Spencer, and followed up with letter to the Minister to ask that Defra carry out a review of local abattoir provision across England. Huw was encouraged that Defra had been trialling a mobile abattoir service and has requested a meeting for local MPs and the Minister to explore the possibility of implementing this service in East Sussex and the affected areas of Kent, where the closure of the Heathfield abattoir had also caused significant impact.
In the meeting in March 2023, Huw, alongside fellow MPs from Kent and East Sussex, had the opportunity to meet with the Farming Minister, Mark Spencer, to discuss the matter further. During this meeting, the MPs were told of the funding opportunities provided by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) through the Farming Investment Fund for farmers who would like to open a new abattoir themselves. A suitable new site would have to be found, with planning permission granted, and a business plan would need to be presented to Defra. Although the idea of a mobile abattoir service seemed promising, it was deemed impractical due to the storage requirements during meat production. As a result, the MPs are now urging farmers with an interest in pursuing a new abattoir to step forward with innovative ideas and proposals for Defra's consideration.
Copies of correspondence with the Farming Minister can be found at the links at the bottom of the page.