Farms Set To Kill And Burn 100,000 Pigs Due To Post-Brexit Workers Shortage
Post-Brexit pressure could see farmers destroy 100,000 pigs due to a shortage of staff in slaughterhouses.
British farms are facing an ‘absolute crisis’, with healthy animals in danger of being killed and burned without the sufficient number of workers. According to livestock industry figures, Home Secretary Priti Patel didn’t include butchers on the list of shortage occupations, which would allow foreigners to come into the country on a skilled worker visa.
More than 100,000 pigs have been caught up in the backlog this year, exacerbated by Brexit restrictions on exports and closures related to COVID-19. Across the country, pork processing plants have also seen staffing gaps of between 10-16%.
Dr Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association, said 85,000 pigs are currently awaiting slaughter due to a 15% shortfall in butchers, the MailOnline reports. Each week, this backlog grows by 15,000.
The pigs are destroyed within a certain timeframe as it becomes uneconomical to feed them. Already, pigs are being kept on farms longer than they normally would.
Davies also spoke about the issue on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. ‘The issue is that because, for whatever reason, a lot of workers have left processing plants and gone home because a lot of them are eastern European. The abattoirs themselves cannot process the number of pigs that we supply them with on a weekly basis,’ she said.
‘So for the last six to eight weeks, all of the major processers have been cutting their kills by up to 25%, which is leading to pigs being kept on farms for far longer than they should be. And that is leading to an absolute crisis for us on the pig side.
‘You can’t stop pig production. Pig production is a continuous process. These animals just keep coming. Even if we stopped serving sows now – and that means mating them – it will take 10 to 11 months before the pigs stop coming.
‘So you’re getting people in increasingly desperate situations. They are getting into debt. They’re getting very stressed out. And we’re now starting to head towards a situation where healthy animals may well need to be destroyed’, she concluded.
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