Farms are set to kill and burn 100,000 pigs because of a post-Brexit butchers’ shortage: Industry chiefs vent fury at Priti Patel for leaving key staff off list – but keeping ballet dancers
- Farmers may be forced to destroy nearly 100,000 pigs due to butcher shortage
- Figures say the animals face being killed due to post-Brexit shortage of workers
- Home Secretary Priti Patel hasn’t included job on a list of shortage occupations
- The list would allow foreign butchers to enter the UK on a skilled worker visa
Published: | Updated:
Farmers could be forced to destroy nearly 100,000 pigs because of a post-Brexit shortage of butchers to work in slaughterhouses.
Leading figures in the livestock industry say that the animals face being killed and burned because Home Secretary Priti Patel has failed to include the job on a list of shortage occupations, which would allow foreign butchers to enter the UK on a skilled worker visa.
One said they found it baffling that ballet dancers were on the list, but not butchers.
Pig farming is the latest industry to be hit by shortages of workers after hundreds of thousands of EU citizens went back to their home countries as a result of Brexit and the pandemic.
Farmers could be forced to destroy nearly 100,000 pigs because of a post-Brexit shortage of butchers to work in slaughterhouses, according to leading figures (stock image)
A shortage of HGV drivers, who are also not on the list, has led to empty supermarket shelves and pushed some drivers’ salaries over £50,000, while growers in Scotland said last week they had to destroy 2.5 million broccoli crowns and 1.5 million cauliflowers because of staff shortages.
Last week, Greggs became the latest fast-food chain to warn customers about shortages of products, joining McDonald’s, Nando’s, KFC, Beefeater and Subway.
Dr Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association, said a 15 per cent shortfall of abattoir butchers had led to a backlog of 85,000 pigs awaiting slaughter, growing by 15,000 every week.
Just over 200,000 pigs are sent to the abattoir every week. Unless they can be butchered soon, they will have to be destroyed as it becomes uneconomical to feed them.
Dr Davies said that the migration advisory committee had recommended to the Home Office that butchers should be on the Shortage Occupations list, but their advice had been ignored.
‘You have ballet dancers on it but not butchers. You couldn’t make it up,’ she said. A review of the list is not due until next year.
The worker shortages have led to fears that much of this year’s harvest could be left rotting in the fields.
The most recent labour market survey by the National Farmers’ Union found that more than a third of vacancies for horticultural workers were going unfilled.
Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured) has failed to include the job on a list of shortage occupations, which would allow foreign butchers to enter the UK on a skilled worker visa
According to the Office for National Statistics, a total of 27 per cent of food and accommodation firms have reported lower than normal stock levels.
A report by accountants Grant Thornton found more than 500,000 vacancies across food and drink businesses.
Nick Allen, of the British Meat Processors Association, said: ‘No one is asking that we return to freedom of movement. The UK voted to leave the EU so that our politicians could be in charge of the decisions.
‘The immigration policy is entirely within their control. We are asking that the Government manage the policy so that we can have a smooth transition rather than ending up with this potential catastrophe. It is in their hands.’
A Home Office source said: ‘More free movement from the EU is not the answer. Butchers can still come to the UK if they are sponsored, skilled workers earning more then the salary threshold of £25,600’.
A Government spokesman said: ‘We want to see employers make long-term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad.
‘The Government encourages all sectors to make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers through training, careers options and wage increases and to invest in increased automation technology.’
Share or comment on this article:
Farms are set to kill and burn 100,000 pigs because of a post-Brexit butchers’ shortage