Pork industry faces devastation as thousands of healthy pigs culled

Healthy pigs are being culled due to a lack of butchers in pork processing plants, farmers have revealed.

Around 35,000 healthy pigs have been killed, according to the National Pig Association (NPA).

The industry body estimates that there are more than 200,000 animals being held on farms amid staff shortages that are preventing them from being processed.

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According to the NPA, healthy pigs are being culled by farmers who have run out of space to keep them, while producers are also being penalized for overweight animals processed late.

Farmers are also being hit with higher costs for animal feed as they are having to keep animals of farms for longer.

A shortage of EU workers, caused by Brexit and the pandemic, has also hit the industry hard.

Around 40 independent producers have recently left the sector due to the ongoing issues, the NPA said.

Now, the NPA and National Farmers’ Union (NFU) have secured an emergency summit at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) which will be attended by representatives from major retailers and pork processors.

Farmers from around the UK are gathering in York as representatives take part in a roundtable discussion with Defra about the crisis in British pig production.

As well as action to reduce the backlog of pigs waiting to be processed, the NPA is calling for more British pork to be sold in supermarkets.

Pig farmers protesting outside the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester last year

The organization is also urging the government to look at providing financial support to the most badly affected producers and simplify the skilled worker visa route to make it easier to recruit much-needed butchers.

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NPA chairman Rob Mutimer said: “This summit is an important opportunity to bring everyone together and really thrash out solutions to a crisis that has just been getting worse and worse on farms. The situation is dire.

“Getting the backlog down by the summer will simply be too late for many pig farmers. This is a crisis unfolding in front of our eyes – and we must act collectively now to save the British pig industry.”

One of the demonstrators outside the meeting, Kate Morgan, who farms near Driffield, East Yorkshire, told reporters: “We need to let them know how important this meeting is to our industry.

“We’re protesting to show our support and let them know that this meeting is vital to the industry.

“It’s going to be devastating. They must do something.”

She continued: “We’re in a really desperate position.

“There’s been about 35-40,000 pigs that we know have been culled on farms and wasted.

“Forty independent farmers have decided to pack in and get out of pigs, which is devastating for the industry.”

She said: “We have just run out of space. Financially, emotionally, mentally, its just the worst place we’ve ever been in as industry. It’s destroying people.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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