U.K. Offers Foreign Butchers Visas After 6,000 Pigs Culled
(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. is easing immigration rules to allow visas for foreign butchers in a bid to ease a severe backlog of pigs awaiting slaughter, after thousands of animals were already killed on farms.
The move is aimed at supporting an industry contending with a glut of hogs and a worker shortage driven by the pandemic and Brexit. As of the start of this month, 120,000 pigs had nowhere to go, raising the risk of massive “welfare” culls, that can destine the animals for rendering into pet food instead of pork.
“The National Pig Association believes that around 6,000 pigs have been culled so far on farms due to space pressures, which are continuing,” it said in a statement Friday. “But this will help and it shows the government finally has listened.”
Brexit has left Britain with a shortage of workers in industries from farming and banking to retail and transportation. The food sector has been particularly impacted, with a lack of truckers to transport goods, while Covid-19 protocols make processes slower.
Some U.K. pork plants have also faced temporary suspensions for exports to China, adding to the industry’s hurdles, the government said.
The foreign pork butchers will be eligible to apply for seasonal visas through to the end of this year that allow them to travel and work in the U.K. for six months, the Department for Transport said in a statement, which also unveiled the relaxation of trucker rules in an effort to curb supply chain disruptions.
Still, the government warned the visas for slaughterhouse staff aren’t a permanent solution.
“Businesses must make long-term investments in the U.K. domestic workforce to build a high-wage, high-skill economy, instead of relying on overseas labor,” it said in a statement.
READ MORE: Oct. 1, U.K. Farms Are Killing Pigs They Can’t House Any Longer
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