A PROJECT, inspired by the Prince of Wales, is to be used to improve the economic viability of six of Scotland’s island abattoirs.
Funding and support from two of Prince Charles’ charities - the Prince’s Countryside Fund and Scottish Business in the Community - and the Scottish Government is to be provided to safeguard the future of the slaughterhouses in Shetland, Orkney, Islay, Mull, Lewis and North Uist.
A spokeswoman for Scottish Business in the Community (SBC) said: “Prince Charles has long been convinced of the importance of retaining island facilities and, as a result of support from his Countryside Fund, a three year project has started and is being delivered in partnership with each abattoir by the Scottish Agricultural Organisational Society and Scottish Business in the Community. The main focus to begin with will be on securing business support to develop more sustainable businesses models.”
She continued: “Small abattoir facilities are important parts of often fragile rural communities. They enable local agriculture businesses to capture local economic benefits and help sustain the outstanding island environment, as well as providing local food provenance for the tourism industry. However, increasing costs and regulation have threatened the existence of abattoirs in areas which are often economically vulnerable.”
Prince Charles said: “I have always passionately believed in the importance of sustaining our rural communities and these facilities are vital for the local agricultural businesses and economy. It allows farmers and crofters to add value to their produce, tourism providers to promote local provenance and local people to have local food.
“It is my strong belief that with the generous assistance of the Scottish Government, these businesses can not only have a sustainable future, but can at last help capture the increased consumer demand for traceable, authentic and quality UK meat.”
He added: “I am delighted that two of my charities, the Countryside Fund and Scottish Business in the Community have been able to support this project and I look forward to seeing a real, lasting difference.”
Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, welcomed the Prince’s support. He said: “The Scotch brand has never been in greater demand locally and across Scotland and the world.
“To fully capitalise on the opportunities we need to take an in-depth look at the issues surrounding livestock production and marketing, and help our producers and processors recognise and seize the opportunities that are now opening up to them.”
The SBC spokeswoman explained: “The project is addressing some of the major issues facing the abattoirs by providing: funds for improvements, specialist business mentoring support, development of the market opportunities, support for staff training and apprenticeships and marketing initiatives to drive sustainable throughput.
“Along with the benefits to abattoirs, an estimated 20 per cent of all the farm businesses, and 2,162 holdings on the islands, will benefit directly from this project. Fifteen young people will also be offered improved skills and job opportunities.”