Around 16,000 pigs have been culled on UK farms as producers continue to take desperate measures in response to critical worker shortages in processing plants.
The National Pig Association (NPA) said the situation facing the sector remained ‘bleak’ despite the government’s support package announced last month.
The NPA explained that 16,000 pigs had been culled on farms so far, but the true figure could be ‘much higher’.
“The harsh reality is that the situation on farm is getting worse,” the group said on Monday (29 November).
“The backlog is not noticeably easing and, with processing days set to be lost over Christmas, it is likely to be into the New Year before we see any real improvement.”
The situation remains critical despite Defra’s recent support package, which included measures such as 800 new butchers’ visas, a private storage aid scheme and incentives for processors to put on extra kills.
The measures, announced in October, were all designed to increase throughput in processing plants and, in turn, help reduce the severe backlog of pigs on farms.
The sector’s crisis is a direct result of slaughterhouse and butchery worker shortages linked to Brexit and the impact of the pandemic.
But the NPA said the benefits of the support package “have not, yet at least, been seen, with butchers yet to arrive in any significant numbers and processors not taking up the private storage aid option.”
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