Why The UK's Pork Industry Is In Crisis

The Daily Mail warns that Britain's pork industry is facing a crisis situation that has farmers' morale and finances at an all-time low. A lack of butchers has forced many pig farmers to kill and dispose of healthy pigs without ever reaching the marketplace. The industry is identifying issues along the supply chain and begging their government for help.

The meat processing sector of the U.K.'s pork industry says that it urgently needs skilled butchers if there is any chance of tackling the growing number of pigs waiting to be processed. The National Pig Association (NPA) says that if the necessary number of butchers are not brought in to help with the backlog, which now exceeds 200,000 pigs, the animals will be culled and wasted. A lack of processing means that farmers have to choose between keeping their pigs on the farm (and paying "hundreds of thousands of extra pounds" to keep feeding them) or simply killing them with no intent to sell or eat the meat.

Farmers and processors in the pork industry point to supply chain issues and "post-Brexit immigration policy" as the main culprits of this crisis, reports the Daily Mail. Although the NPA plans to hold a summit to brainstorm solutions, pig farmers feel that help won't come soon enough.

What steps are being taken to solve the dilemma?

As the number of pigs awaiting processing in the U.K. grows substantially, officials take a hard look at solutions to the industry crisis. Some farmers argue the causes of the massive backlog have been identified, blasting government officials for taking ineffective steps to correct the problem.

The BBC says that the pandemic is partly to blame for the industry's dwindling workforce, as Chinese marketplace demand slowed and caused many butchers employed in the U.K. to be laid off. As demand rebounded, the meat processing industry found itself in need of about 10,000 butchers, but Brexit immigration policies requiring extensive paperwork have made it challenging to get foreign workers back into the country. The government implemented a special visa program in the fall of 2021, but it only brought back 100 workers and failed to make a dent in the demand for butchers.

U.K. government officials are encouraging the pork industry to utilize the "skilled workers route," which is an amended visa provision for workers doing "specified pork butchery work" (via Newland Chase), but farmers who have already culled 40,000 healthy pigs and face possible financial ruin are demanding more decisive and effective action.