Hundreds of thousands of pigs face cull as butcher shortage hits – but minister slams firms for not paying Brits enough

Hundreds of thousands of pigs face cull as butcher shortage hits – but minister slams firms for not paying Brits enough

October 1, 2021

HUNDREDS of thousands of super-fat pigs will have to be “shot on the farm” because of a shortage of butchers.

But business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng hit out at firms using the shortfall of workers to get more visas for cheaper labour rather than paying proper wages.


It comes as ministers dubbed the nation’s shortfalls the ‘EFFing Crisis’ – for energy, fuel and food, as farmers warn pigs are fattening up too much.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer demanded Parliament be recalled to deal with the crisis and get more lorry drivers on the roads.

He said: “I don’t want people in this country to have another Christmas ruined by this Prime Minister’s lack of planning.”

The National Pig Association say 110,000 swines will be culled and then dumped in skips unless 1,000 foreign butchers are found within weeks.

But Downing Street said there was no need to relax visa rules for meat workers as they are already on a skills shortage list – provided they speak English.

But Mr Kwarteng said some businesses were trying to force the government in the “old ways” before Brexit.

He said: "Having rejected the low-wage, high-immigration model, we were always going to try to transition to something else.

"What we're seeing now is part of that transition.”

He added businesses are “resisting” change adding: “Particularly employers that were benefiting from an influx of labour that could keep wages low."

Mr Kwarteng said he believed the transition could be "quite short," adding: "I think in a year we could be in a totally different place to where we are today."

The National Pig Association’s Rob Mutimer said a “mass cull” of pigs was just a few weeks away.

It's an absolute travesty

He said pig farms of all sizes are running out of space to keep their animals, "which is a real worry coming into winter".

He said killing the animals would involve "shooting pigs on farm, or taking them to an abattoir, killing the animals, and actually disposing them in the skip at the other end of the chain."

Adding: "So it's an absolute travesty."

Mr Mutimer added that his pigs are usually around 115kg when they go to slaughter, but are now getting up to around 140kg.

He added: "The pens and the sheds and everything just weren't designed for animals of this size and we're really heading into an acute welfare disaster very quickly.”

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