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Desperate British pig farmers tell Johnson: Ease immigration rules

  • Abattoirs, meat processors hit by employee scarcity
  • Farmers say Brexit, COVID led to exodus of east European staff
  • Up to 150,000 pigs danger being culled – National Farmers Union
  • PM says farmers should hike wages for locals, put money into expertise

DRIFFIELD, England, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Two sisters working a pig farm in northeast England have a message for Prime Minister Boris Johnson: raise strict immigration rules for butchers or danger seeing the pork sector collapse beneath the burden of overly fattened animals.

Farmers throughout Britain say a mixture of Brexit and COVID-19 have sparked an exodus of east European staff from abattoirs and meat processors, leaving pigs to again up in barns and fields throughout the nation.

As the pigs achieve weight from the additional time spent on the farm, consuming meals that has additionally jumped in value, they danger passing the scale threshold at which abattoirs impose monetary penalties as a result of they’ve develop into more durable to deal with.

While some have began culling pigs, others like Kate Morgan and Vicky Scott are desperately attempting to maintain theirs till they’ll go for slaughter, however they warned that tensions had been working excessive and plenty of farmers had been quitting the job.

“The pressure is like pressure we’ve never had before, emotionally it’s absolutely draining, financially it’s crippling,” Scott informed Reuters over the squeals and grunts of a few hundred pigs. “We’re in a fairly bad place right now.”

Industries throughout Britain have warned in current months that they’re struggling to keep up operations after European staff returned house in the summertime, with gaps being felt on farms, in factories and all through the freight sector.

The drawback has hit pig farming onerous. Making little revenue at the perfect of occasions, it’s now shedding cash on each pig bought and the National Farmers Union warned two weeks in the past that as much as 150,000 pigs might be culled. learn extra


Morgan and Scott say a 25% capability reduce by their abattoir has left some 5,000 pigs within the towering barns that stand out on the open, flat fields of east Yorkshire. While speaking to Reuters they acquired news of one other abattoir cancellation.

Morgan mentioned they had been doing the whole lot they may to keep away from a cull however that the stress was constructing. “We are juggling everything, trying to put pigs where maybe they shouldn’t be just so that we don’t get to that situation,” she mentioned.

She urged Johnson to ease post-Brexit immigration rules and permit European butchers to enter Britain while not having to first cross a complete English language check, a requirement that the trade says is laying aside staff.

The pleas have to date fallen on deaf ears. Johnson has mentioned companies have to wean themselves off the “drug” of low-cost migrant labour and put money into expertise and better salaries to recruit sufficient British staff.

He has provoked the ire of farmers in current weeks by quipping, variously, that bacon sandwiches come from useless pigs and that animals are bred on farms to be slaughtered.

“Have you ever had a bacon sandwich?” Johnson requested a Times Radio journalist when questioned a few potential pig cull. “Those pigs, when you ate them, were not alive.”

Scott says their farm has ploughed cash into expertise and retained employees by often mountaineering wages. The drawback lies in abattoirs and meat processors the place butchers are sometimes extra environment friendly than machines. The sisters be aware that increased wages within the sector would additionally result in increased meals costs.

Short time period, Scott says a rest of visa rules is the one answer to get the trade straight. “Hopefully the government are listening to us now,” she mentioned. “It’s critical, it’s very time critical and we need them to do something, now.”

Reporting by Kate Holton; enhancing by Guy Faulconbridge and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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Farmer Kate Morgan stands with some of her breeding sows on her family pig farm near Driffield, Britain, October 12, 2021. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Farmers Kate Morgan (L) and Vicky Scott stand with some of their breeding sows on their family pig farm near Driffield, Britain, October 12, 2021. REUTERS/Phil Noble

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