Farmers protest as 120,000 pigs could be destroyed within days

Pig farmers protested outside the Conservative Party conference, arguing that a shortage of skilled butchers could lead to “an emotional and financial disaster” in which tens of thousands of British pigs are killed for waste.

Farmers have warned that if there was a shortage of butchers, up to 120,000 animals could be slaughtered on farms and then cremated because they cannot go to the slaughterhouse and there is nowhere else to put them.

Pig farmers protested outside the Tory conference in Manchester Monday morning, calling for a temporary visa system to bring more butchers to the UK.

They held up posters that said, “No butchers. No bacon. No British pig industry. “

Pig farmers protest ahead of Conservative Party conference in Manchester (Stefan Rousseau / PA)

Pig veterinarian Duncan Berkshire, who attended the pig farmers’ protest, told the PA news agency, “We are here to ask the government to grant us some short-term Covid recovery visas of 12-18 months that would help resolve bottlenecks and Not having to kill pigs on the farm in the end, which would be an absolute farce if we want to deliver good, welfare-friendly and quality-assured pork to British consumers. “

Vicky Scott, a pig farmer from East Yorkshire, said the protesting pig farmers had come from all over the country.

She told PA: “Right now there is a huge crisis in UK pig farms.”

Ms. Scott said, “In the past 11 weeks, the number of our contract pigs going to slaughter has been reduced by 25%, bringing an estimated 150,000 additional pigs to the farm. And of course that grows every day. “

She added, “Right now, the government must be to blame because it doesn’t seem to understand the problem and the problem is massive and really real. And we are forced to make the decision whether to kill pigs on the farm. Of course, if we have to kill pigs on the farm, they cannot get into the food chain. So it’s just a huge waste. It is really immoral that we should be forced into this position. “

Ms. Scott said farmers don’t raise pigs “to waste a lot of resources, energy, and time only to end up killing our pigs and dumping them in landfills. It’s disgusting. And it’s that bad. And they don’t seem to understand. And all we need are a few butchers in the processing plants. “

She said, “None of this is up to the farmers. We pay our employees really well. We have good staff. And they do a really good job. It’s not our fault that there aren’t enough butchers in the processing plant. And we are the ones who will survive this emotional and financial catastrophe. “

Ms. Scott added, “The retailers only fill their shelves with foreign stuff. It is criminal that we are forced to make this decision and kill healthy animals as garbage. “

Despite recent media coverage on the matter, the Prime Minister seemed unaware of the problem when questioned on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

Boris Johnson’s first response was to tell the host, “I hate teaching you, but I’m afraid there are a lot of animals being killed in our food industry. I think your viewers have to understand that. “

When he was pointed out that the whole problem was that they couldn’t be sold for food and had to be disposed of on farms, he accused the moderator of “trying to cover up”.

Mr. Johnson added, “The great hecatomb of pigs you are describing has not happened yet, let’s see what happens.”

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