Last year Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) formed a working group to look at ways of providing an abattoir service for Skye and Lochalsh after a gap of over twenty years.
Currently crofters and farmers in the region have to transport animals for slaughter to Dingwall, a journey of up to three and a half hours, or even take them by ferry to Lochmaddy.
The Scottish Government has now agreed to fund a study into options for funding, building and operating a small-scale slaughtering and processing facility which would be co-operatively owned and operated.
The study will be carried out by a Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) team led by Portree-based senior consultant Siobhan Macdonald.
SCF’s Crofting Resources Programme manager Donald Murdie said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government is to fund this work, and that we will have the expertise of SAC to deliver it.
“Previous feasibility studies have envisaged a full-time, industrial-scale meat plant, which clearly would not be viable.
“The aim of this study is to produce costed plans for a facility appropriate in scale and ownership structure, with a flexible operating strategy able to respond to seasonal demand.
“The resulting report will be made freely available to other groups of producers wishing to develop their own small-scale abattoir facilities.”
SAC’s Siobhan Macdonald said, “SAC are delighted to work with SCF to investigate a model for a micro-abattoir. Such a venture needs careful consideration, but could provide opportunities for crofters and farmers to reach new markets and add value to stock reared in this area of high nature value farming.”