Solution sought as Borders abbatoir stops slaughtering

Following the announcement last Monday that Galashiels abattoir would cease killing cattle and sheep, NFU Scotland held a meeting on Friday with a range of parties who will be affected by the decision.

The loss of the slaughtering facility for ruminants is a serious concern and the Union is keen to work out immediate and long-term solutions to the problem.

The announcement from Scottish Borders Abattoir (SBA) is that it will still continue to provide a full service for cattle and sheep consignors - providing continuity for its existing customers - which will see stock hauled to Shotts Abattoir in North Lanarkshire. Transport will be provided to get livestock to Shotts, with the carcasses able to return to Galashiels where the cutting and packing hall will remain open. Galashiels will continue to provide a slaughter facility for pigs and SBA wholesale will continue as well.

Following the meeting, NFUS president, Nigel Miller said: “We are all very concerned about the loss of slaughter provision for cattle and sheep at Galashiels, but welcome the continued pig processing operation there.

“Consumers can also be assured that the service will be continued as the partnership between SBA and Shotts Abattoir will see stock being moved to the modern plant at Shotts for slaughter, with the carcasses returned to Galashiels’ chill and cutting plant.

“It is very unfortunate that two jobs have been lost with the decision to stop cattle and sheep slaughter at the plant. However, it is positive that, despite the drop in throughput, the abattoir can still meet existing contracts and support the market at St Boswells.

“Even though an alternative solution via Shotts abattoir has been found, the situation is far from ideal and highlights numerous wider issues. The Borders is a major livestock-producing region with the potential to supply high volumes of good quality meat. The region has a good network of local butchers and branded producer-retailers which are a great credit to the area and must be allowed to thrive.

“Following Friday’s meeting, NFUS will establish a development group to explore future options for slaughtering and processing in the Borders.

“The group’s immediate priority will be to explore new arrangements to ensure that there is enough volume to support any future abattoir operation.”