Geoffrey is calling for urgent action to deal with the crisis on pig farms across the country.
He has been contacted by pig farmers in Devon who are unable to sell their pigs due to severe labour shortages in the meat processing industry, and are in the position of destroying livestock for little or no return on their investment. This is food that will be wasted instead of ending up in British shops.
It has already been a difficult year for pig farmers, and the sector has faced a number of challenges in recent months including: disruption to meat exports following the introduction of new export controls and requirements; the closure of meat processing plants due to COVID-19 resulting in a backlog of pigs on farms, and a lack of skilled butchers to deal with the increased post-COVID demand for processing; competition from cheaper pork imports from Germany after the loss of the Chinese export market, which in turn has led to lower domestic pig prices.
These long-term pressures and the acute shortage of butchers in the food industry to deal with the backlog have now culminated in a crisis for British pig farmers.
Geoffrey is urging the Government to tackle bureaucratic delays in granting visas to skilled butchers under the existing scheme for skilled workers, and work with the National Pig Association and National Farmers' Union to establish a working group to develop long-term solutions to the challenges in the pork supply chain.
“I am deeply conscious that pig farmers in my constituency are under immense pressure and their farm businesses are in financial peril. This is an immediate crisis that requires urgent action. I am glad that Sir David Lewis, the former Tesco CEO, has been appointed to tackle the blockages in the supply chain and that the Pig Industry is now apparently receiving the attention it deserves.
“But to avoid the imminent animal welfare issues, and further devastating losses for pig farmers, we need to grant visas quickly for skilled butchers and urgent action is necessary by the Government to develop with the industry a more lasting solution to these supply chain problems.”