Pigs killed rise to 6,000, but farmers hope for a breakthrough in butcher visas after sending pictures of cattle in cramped conditions
A breakthrough in the pig crisis has come a step closer after photos of animals living in cramped conditions on the farms were sent to Boris Johnson and several ministers. I can betray.
The number of pigs culled on farms due to the lack of slaughter workers – triggered by new visa requirements after Brexit – has increased tenfold from 600 to 6,000 in one week. I understands.
However, Zoe Davies, executive director of the National Pig Association, said she was “quietly optimistic” that ministers would agree to lower English skills for butchers from abroad, which is currently blocking their entry into the UK and leading to massive staff shortages.
Farmers have protested that the butcher shortage has resulted in thousands of pigs being inappropriately killed and entering the food chain as pork, instead being kept on farms where they are getting bigger and bigger, with little space for them.
The crisis is forcing some farmers to slaughter the animals – they are burned and their meat is wasted.
The NPA sent photos of farm animals in cramped conditions to the Prime Minister and a number of other ministers – which appears to have sparked change.
A week earlier, Mr Johnson had made the situation easy, hinting the pigs would die anyway, and referring to “bacon sandwiches”.
No10 said the prime minister did not receive the photos through official channels. However, the NPA said Home Office ministers confirmed they had received the pictures.
Ms. Davies told Radio 4’s Farming Today program, “There are definitely changes going on. It got to the point where we sent some pictures to various ministers to prove that pigs were becoming over-populated on the farms and this resulted in a small number of farms starting to kill animals.
“After that everything changed and for the first time we had someone from the cabinet office in one of our regular Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] To meet.
“That showed me that the message seems to have landed. I think the government has finally listened. “
The NPA and pork processing industry officials met the new supply chain tsar, Sir Dave Lewis, on Monday and the talks have been “positive”, leading to more optimism that a breakthrough is imminent.
But until the government confirms action will be taken on visas, a source said the number of animals killed “will continue to increase until we find a solution”.
Butchers are on the skilled worker list for overseas visas but must meet high English language requirements to qualify to work in the UK.
Ms. Davies added: “This is the final blocker now – they are not wages because they are over £ 25,000. It now depends on the English level requirements and the bureaucracy involved in applying for these visas.
“I am calmly optimistic. I honestly believe that the message has finally gotten to the people who need to hear it. We’ve had so much more Cabinet Office involvement and obviously this is the department that will make changes if they need to be made.
“Of course we will keep up the pressure to ensure that the process is carried out as quickly as possible in order to avoid further deterioration of the situation in the factories.”