The UK’s farming sector is warning hundreds of thousands of pigs may have to be culled within weeks unless the government issues more visas to allow butchers into the country.
Due to the corona crisis and the British immigration policy since Brexit, there has been an acute shortage of staff in the meat processing industry, including butchers and butchers.
On Sunday, the government announced a plan to issue temporary visas for 5,000 foreign truck drivers and 5,500 workers in the poultry sector. That should eliminate the staff shortages there. However, there is reportedly nothing in the pipeline for more schemes in other sectors with shortages. London believes that companies should invest in staff and improve wages and working conditions.
Lizzie Wilson, a policy officer at the National Pig Association (NPA), said the shortage of butchers has meant that the capacity of the processing plants has fallen by a quarter. As a result, pigs that are ripe for slaughter are left behind on farms. This puts animal welfare at risk.
“There are currently about 120,000 pigs on the farm that should have already been slaughtered, processed and eaten,” Wilson said. If there is no government help, pigs on the farms will have to be culled.
Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, said a cull of 150,000 pigs would happen “possibly in a week or ten days.” “I don’t believe this has ever happened in the world before, and it can’t happen now,” she told the BBC. David Lindars, director of technical operations at the British Meat Processing Association, also said a cull is “coming very close.”