Hundreds of overseas butchers are set to be allowed into Britain to handle the UK’s Christmas meat crisis.
Ministers are expected to U-turn and create visas for foreign slaughterers in the run-up to the festive period as a huge cull of pigs gets started.
Boris Johnson’s government had endeavoured to play down the impact of the wasting of up to 100,000 pigs which faced being thrown away because they can’t be professionally butchered for sale.
It had earlier resisted calls for foreign workers to be permitted to make up for a shortfall in skilled British workers, but many Whitehall sources told a newspaper outlet that ministers have bowed to growing pressure from industry and are concluding plans to allow approximately 1,000 experienced workers to relieve UK abattoirs.
Farmers have been warning more than 100,000 pigs face destruction in the coming days because of a deficiency of butchers to process their meat.
The seriousness of the situation was underlined when a cull of approximately 4,500 pigs started.
Tory environment minister Lord Benyon informed the House of Lords that a decision was expected and the actions proposed would reflect the action taken in the poultry sector to deal with labour gaps.
The Government announced last month that 5,500 provisional visas would be issued to poultry workers and 5,000 to HGV drivers to prevent shortages in the run-up to Christmas.
Dr Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association, said farmers were disturbed, and she said that as imagined this was hugely challenging for the farmers affected, and that some were having to use knackermen as they just couldn’t bear having to do it or ask their workers to do it.
The Prime Minister incensed the farming industry earlier this month by sweeping aside the crisis, saying the vast hecatomb (sacrifice) of pigs might not materialise.
Boris Johnson said the industry needed to improve pay and conditions to draw experienced workers already in Britain.
However, last night it seemed that visa rules would be relaxed as they already have been for poultry workers.
One possibility being considered is for less stringent English language rules, which industry leaders claim are making it impossible to recruit butchers from overseas.
The cruel cull of pigs involves using a so-called captive bolt gun, which shoots a retractable bolt through the head of the animal.
It’s very unusual to slaughter animals in this way on farms, let alone hundreds at a time, and it’s provoked concerns for the mental health and wellbeing of the teams involved.
Duncan Berkshire, a vet who’s involved in a steering group of experts working with pig farmers, said the grim process has started on three farms, each containing approximately 1,500 adult pigs.
He said the farmers involved were unwilling to go public, given the circumstances of the cull and concerns they might be targeted by activists.
He described the situation as the absolute last option, adding that UK farmers were proud to produce food and that they didn’t want to produce food that was going to go into the bin.
Duncan Berkshire said that it was disturbing for everyone concerned because these were big pigs and they needed to be restrained and that they needed people who were trained to do that properly.
He said welfare was important and they didn’t want any suffering up to the point of death.
The Tory government granting visas for workers from abroad, due to their self inflicted shortages of workers, is evidence that Brexit, including ending Freedom of Movement has failed.
And no matter what, these beautiful intelligent pigs will be slaughtered, and the irony of it all is that Brexit Britain is now begging immigrants to come over to England, simply because our government won’t fork out the money to train our unemployed to do the job.
The problem is that the government is so incompetent they didn’t do any research before it made key decisions, and if they don’t train their own people to do the necessary jobs then clearly they’re going to need foreign labour, and of course, it’s more affordable to take on foreign labour that it is to train our own in this country.
The point is, we shouldn’t be relying on foreign labour in the first place, and that’s what needs to be sorted out.