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East Riding Councillor Calls For Inquiry into Pig Farming

Monday, January 17th, 2022 7:12am

By Matthew Pells with additional reporting from Joe Gerrard, Local Democracy Reporter

East Riding of Yorkshire Council is to write to Defra to express urgent concern over the future of Pig Farming in the county after 10,000 animals were culled.

The east riding is the largest Pig Farming area in the UK but councillors have heard that many farmers are facing problems resulting from a shortage of workers in pig processing plants.

Conservative Cllr Charlie Dewhirst, who is also a policy advisor for for the National Pig Association, said farmers were currently losing around £25 per pig because of worker shortages.

Ten thousand pigs were culled in the East Riding in the run up to Christmas because there was not enough capacity in the meat processing plants. Staff shortages have lead to massive backlogs at processing plants, with farmers unable to move the pigs off their farms.

Now the east riding of Yorkshire Council is to write to Defra to express serious concerns for the future of the industry.

Councillor Dewhurst says farmers are suffering because of the issues in the meat processing industry, he wants the government to look at the situation.

East Riding councillors have backed a motion which instructions the authority to write to the government raising concerns for farmers and to explore ways to help. The motion stated an estimated 10,000 pigs had been culled in the East Riding in the run up to Christmas.

The East Riding is one of the largest pig farming areas in the UK, accounting for around 37 per cent of its total livestock.

Cllr Phil Davison said Brexit had fuelled the worker shortage, adding EU nationals accounted for 60 per cent of local pig processors and many had returned to their home countries.

The Liberal Democrat said:

“This industry is important to the rural economy of the East Riding.

“The Brexit policy, it cannot be denied, affected this industry.

“The prime minister’s reaction to pigs being incinerated or culled was that they’ve got to die sometime, that was a callous and derisory reaction.

“What is needed is for the government to acknowledge there is a problem and to act.

“It could act by temporary restrictions on imported pork, a longer guaranteed period of work for those migrant workers it should encourage to return and investment in training for workers in the processing chain.”

Cllr John Holtby said the council needed to go further with its call to look into the pig supply chain which was not working properly.

The councillor, who is a farmer, said:

“The pandemic has also encouraged people who do so much in processing to return to their home countries.

“Farmers have been unable to move pigs at the right time so they stay on farms, eating and becoming overweight, out of the contract specification.

“The processor then slashes the price thus causing the farms to lose a lot of money very quickly.

“If they can still not be moved then the unacceptable scenario arises where the pigs have to be culled at huge expense to the farmer and causes waste.”


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