ECONOMY

Up to 800 temporary visas for butchers


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undreds of additional temporary visas for foreign butchers have been announced by the Government as part of a package of support following calls from the industry to intervene over labour shortages.

It comes after warnings that up to 150,000 pigs could be destroyed as waste as the labour shortage in meat processing has led to a backlog of animals ready for slaughter.

Measures announced by the Government on Thursday include up to 800 visas for butchers to come to the UK for up to six months.

Under the plans, there will also be funding for additional meat storage, moves to introduce processing of animals on Saturdays and the potential for longer working hours.

National Farming Union vice president Tom Bradshaw said the visa announcement was a “step in the right direction”.

(PA) / PA Archive

The Government said the pig industry has faced challenges in recent months because of the pandemic and the temporary suspension of approval to export to China for some UK pork establishments.

These issues have led to a backlog of pigs awaiting slaughter, the Government said.

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.”

Environment Secretary George Eustice leaves Downing Street (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) / PA Wire

Mr Bradshaw 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? How quickly will the visa process work? And yeah, we just need them here as soon as possible.”

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

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