Abattoir changes may kill off Buriton's ?Community Cow' scheme

Too much red tape is being blamed for the demise of a local food project in Buriton - but villagers want to carry on if they can.

Since 2008 people have been able to buy delicious local beef from nearby Bolinge Hill Farm.

Individual cattle have been sent to the modern Laverstoke Park Abattoir run by former champion racing driver Jody Scheckter.

?They provided an excellent service,? explains Susan Shone of Bolinge Hill Farm, ?and local orders for my beef have grown regularly.?

?Last year I sent a total of four animals to them which all came back to the village, cut into portions and vacuum-packed for people to collect.?

?That's a total of 75 happy families eating local food.?

?But the abattoir wrote to me in September saying that they could no longer support small-scale orders. They will now only take batches of two or more cattle and will no longer provide a cutting and packing service.?

?Most of my animals go to the ABM abattoir in Guildford and then on to London restaurants and Sainsbury's.?

?But for the last six years I've also chosen to sell some of my meat to families in the parish - it all helps people to understand farming and respect the countryside.?

?Now it looks as though this will have to stop - I feel devastated?.

Representatives of the abattoir have blamed the move on red tape as every animal that arrives involves reams of paperwork.

After receiving complaints from many customers they have adjusted their new plans slightly - but the changes may still signal the end for the Buriton community scheme.

?I have spent days trying to think of alternatives,? said Mrs Shone. ?The first problem is finding an abattoir that will just kill one animal. Apart from Guildford, which is huge and doesn't cater for small private kills, there is nothing in this part of the world.?

?Even if I found somewhere it would be a long distance away which would involve distress for the animal and additional time and money, taking the animal there and collecting the carcase on another day. I would also have to find a butcher who could cut and pack the meat.?

?I think that I may be at the end of the road through no fault of mine - and there will be a lot of disappointed people.?

The local meat scheme was part of a 'Down on our Farms' project introduced as a result of Buriton's Parish Plan.

There are also regular farm walks, talks, school visits and open days. But buying delicious meat from our local farms has proved to be very popular.

The scheme is particularly environmentally friendly with the beef never even leaving the county.

Organisers of the scheme agreed with Mrs Shone that it seems unfair that small production for local people is being prevented in this way. Small changes at abattoirs can have much wider effects.

It is hoped that it might be possible to find another way for the scheme to carry on - but help and ideas from other people may be required ?