Supply crisis: Overseas butchers and slaughterhouse workers will be given six-month seasonal worker visas to deal with hog backlog | UK News

The government has announced that butchers and slaughterhouse workers from abroad will be granted seasonal worker visas to deal with the pile of pigs that need to be slaughtered.

Agriculture Minister George Eustice said about 800 pork butchers from overseas are needed to prevent the mass culling of 150,000 animals.

Butchers are expected to arrive in November, and they will be eligible to apply for a six-month visa by December 31 from the current allocation in the Seasonal Worker Pilot Program.

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It will be temporary only and will apply to come to the UK via the existing skilled worker route, in addition to foreign butchers already eligible as of December 2020.

Mr. Eustice also announced that slaughterhouses will be offered special storage assistance (PSA), so they can temporarily store pigs before they go to market to clear their backlog.

The PSA is a taxpayer-funded market intervention scheme that provides funds to keep slaughtered pigs in special cold storage.

The government is also changing the rules on cabotage (loading and unloading of goods in a country) so that EU truck drivers in the UK can travel as much as they want in a two-week period.

However, Mr. Eustice said the requirement for butchers to speak English would not be lifted, as expected.

The National Pig Association (NPA), which represents the majority of affected farmers, welcomed the intervention, although it said the requirement for butchers to speak English was “the last barrier”.

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The announcement comes after a meeting Monday between farmers, processors and the government’s recently appointed supply chain adviser, Sir Dave Lewis.

An NPA spokesperson said: “We are very relieved that the government has finally taken some measures aimed at reducing the significant hog accumulation on farms.

“We are working with processors to understand the impact of these new measures and determine exactly what will happen right now and how quickly so we can give pig farmers some hope and stop the flow of healthy pigs that need to be culled right now.” farms.”

Thousands of pigs have already been culled Their carcasses were cremated on farms across England, the NPA said on Wednesday.

Workers in the British pig farming industry protest outside the annual Conservative Party conference on October 4, 2021, in Manchester, England.  REUTERS/Toby Melville
Workers in the British pig farming industry protested outside the Conservative Party Conference in early October.

Butcher shortages left farmers with too many pigs on their farms, prompting warnings that 10,000 pigs a week had to be destroyed.

The agriculture secretary said the loss of personnel from the pig industry “had nothing to do with Brexit”.

He said: “It’s a complex picture: lots of market disruptions, access issues to the Chinese market, maybe a little overproduction – here production increased by about 7% – and yes, labor was an aggravating factor, but not the only factor.

“In common with the pork industry and many parts of the food industry, it has seen as many staff losses from the left as most of the EU citizens they trusted during the pandemic – nothing to do with Brexit.

They were entitled to stay, but many chose to return to be with their families during a difficult time.

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The butcher shortage affects around 1,400 farms, which supply 90% of British pork through contracts with major processors.

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