UK to issue hundreds of emergency foreign worker visas as Boris panics over supply crisis

There have been warnings that up to 150,000 pigs could be destroyed as waste as a shortage of labour in meat processing has triggered a mounting backlog of animals prepared for slaughter.

The newly-announced measures from the Government include up to 800 visas for foreign butchers.

There will also be funding provided for more meat storage and a move to introduce processing of animals on Saturdays, as well as the possibility for longer working hours.

Mr Johnson’s Government has acknowledged the pig industry has been facing challenges as a result of the continued Covid pandemic and the temporary suspension of approval to export to China for some UK pork establishments.

They added these issues have led to a backlog of pigs awaiting slaughter.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “A unique range of pressures on the pig sector over recent months such as the impacts of the pandemic and its effect on export markets have led to the temporary package of measures we are announcing today.

“This is the result of close working with industry to understand how we can support them through this challenging time.”

National Farming Union vice president Tom Bradshaw described the latest visa announcement as a “step in the right direction”.

He told Times Radio: “We really welcome the recognition of how serious the issue is.

“The 800 visas is a step in the right direction that will really help to get things back on track.

“And I guess, for us now, the critical thing is how quickly can we get those butchers over here?”

Mr Bradshaw added: “I’m pleased that however challenging its been, we know George Eustice has really been fighting the corner for the industry.

“He’s managed to get this over the line.

“We just now need to implement it, as I say, as quickly as possible. There can’t be any delays in getting those visas out.”


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