Butcher visa scheme 'too late' says pig farmer

Easham Pig Farmer Simon Watchorn.

The ongoing issues with the pig farming industry has lead farmer Simon Watchorn to begin the process of closing his farm - Credit: Nick Butcher

A Suffolk farmer says temporary measures introduced by the Government to help alleviate the butcher shortage in the pig farming industry, comes too late after thousands of pigs have already been culled.

A total of 800 butchers could be brought to the UK for up to six months, provided they speak fluent English, and a fund will be set up for a private storage aid system so that slaughtered pigs can be preserved for three to six months and processed at a later date.

The third part of action includes supporting the establishments that have been delisted by China, who had concerns over coronavirus outbreaks, and to identify other export markets for pork.

Easham Pig Farmer Simon Watchorn.

Pigs from Simon's farm - Credit: Nick Butcher

Though one Suffolk pig farmer, who has already begun to wind his business down, has questioned why action has only been taken now when the industry is in crisis and not months ago.

Simon Watchorn, from Earsham Park Farm near Bungay, described the measures as a step in the right direction and emphasised the need to be positive but he didn't understand why it took so long: "Why did you wait until the whole of the industry was on it's knees with people packing up before you decided to act?

"I can see what they are trying to achieve, but actually six months is not enough and we wanted 3,500 to 4,000 butchers to help and they've offered 800."

Zoe Davies, National Pig Association. Picture: NPA

Zoe Davies, National Pig Association - Credit: NPA

The National Pig Association believes that around 6,000 pigs have been culled so far on farms due to space pressures.

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NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: "We are so very relieved that the Government has finally released some measures aimed at reducing the significant pig backlog on farms.

"We are working with the processors to understand the impact of these new measures and to determine exactly what will happen now, and how quickly, so that we can give pig farmers some hope and stem the flow of healthy pigs currently having to be culled on farms."

Environment secretary George Eustice Picture: VICTORIA JONES

Environment secretary George Eustice - Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

Environment Secretary George Eustice said they are working closely with the industry to support them through this challenging time.

Pig farmer Simon added that he won't change his decision to quit and he suspects that some pigs will still need to be culled as he has doubts over how many butchers will want to move here for only six months.


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