Empower local abattoirs to speed up pig slaughtering says Welsh Conservative amid Brexit backlog
The Welsh Government should look at ways to make it faster and easier for local abattoirs to slaughter pigs, a Senedd member has said.
Brexit and the pandemic has caused a chronic shortage of butchers, leading to a massive backlog of 120,000 pigs on farms after they should have been slaughtered.
Aberconwy Senedd Member Janet Finch-Saunders said that the Welsh Government should look into speeding up the process.
“At a time when many farms have seen 25% fewer pigs slaughtered each week, which has seen numbers rapidly stack up on farms, it is time for the Welsh Government to proactively investigate what we can do to help strengthen the sector in Wales,” she said.
“It is just nonsensical for pig farmers in Conwy County to currently have to travel to either Corwen or Wrexham to slaughter their pigs, when we could empower abattoirs like Llanrwst to undertake the skilled work. This would strengthen our rural economy and circulate money where it is needed most.
“The Welsh Minister for Rural Affairs needs to take a lead on championing Welsh abattoirs, and putting a strategy in place to see as many as possible licenced to handle pigs.”
Hundreds of pigs have already been slaughtered on British farms and their meat wasted because of a lack of workers to process them for sale, the industry warned.
Phil Woodall, general manager at Thames Valley Cambac, a leading pig marketer, said first and foremost the sector has been hit by “a vast shortage of butchery staff as a result of Brexit, aggravated by the pandemic”.
“We are effectively exporting our industries to countries that have worse animal welfare standards, and the Government are standing by and watching this happen,” he told the i.
Meanwhile, EU pig farmers have been limited in their ability to export pork to China, a crucial market, because of bouts of African Swine Fever. This meant that more cheap imported pork was coming from the EU.
Speaking at a Conservative conference event last week, environment secretary George Eustice conceded that to get the backlog of surplus pork out of the door, farmers might have to slash their prices in the short term.
He said: “We might need to adjust prices to clear the backlog. Farmers won’t appreciate that with businesses at risk now.”