The government has announced a package of measures to support the pig industry which has faced a number of challenges in recent months because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the temporary suspension of approval to export to China for some UK pork establishments, all of which have led to a backlog of pigs awaiting slaughter.

These measures come in recognition of the unique temporary circumstances farmers are facing, brought about by the global economy responding to the impacts of the pandemic and the global pressures facing supply chains worldwide.

As well as working with industry to introduce processing of animals on Saturdays and longer working days where possible, the government will fund a private storage aid scheme in England which will enable meat processors to store slaughtered pigs for three-to-six months so that they can be preserved safely and processed at a later date.

Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme

Until December 31, up to 800 pork butchers will be eligible to apply for visas from the existing allocation in the Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme, allowing them to travel and work in the UK for a period of six months.

This temporary adjustment is in addition to foreign butchers already being eligible since December 2020 to apply to come to the UK through the Skilled Worker Route as part of the point-based immigration system.

The government said that temporary visas are not a long-term solution and businesses must make long-term investments in the UK domestic workforce to build a high-wage, high-skill economy, instead of relying on overseas labour.

The government expects the pork sector to encourage better training offers, career options and wage increases to ensure that the sector draws on the large domestic labour pool in the UK, as well as investing in technology across the industry.