UFU warning on lack of labour for pig processing

UFU warning on lack of labour for pig processing

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has warned reduced labour availability in local pig processing plants has been hitting Northern Ireland pig producers for some time and is now causing huge financial pressure on farms.

The waring comes after vets working to tackle pigs’ overcrowding in farms warned the government was not taking the abattoir labour shortage seriously, and that ‘mass culling’ could soon be the only option left.

After meetings with industry representatives on the need for a workable solution, UFU president, Victor Chestnutt said: “The industry’s ability to handle the number of pigs that must be processed each week has to be addressed. This is directly linked to labour shortages and while this is affecting other sectors too, pig producers are by far taking the biggest hit.”

‘Taking a toll’

The UFU president said farmers were being left to manage a significant backlog on farms, adding: “This means bearing the cost of keeping and feeding stock ready for market. This is taking a toll on already slim margins.

“The inability to send pigs to slaughter at the appropriate time also risks these animals falling outside the specification required by the consumer, and carries a further penalty to the farmer.”

The UFU says pig producers are in the middle of a perfect storm of weaker global demand, price pressure and now an inability to move stock off farm in a timely way.

“Making matters even worse, Karro has recently slashed the price of finished pigs. Producers, already facing significant cash flow pressures are taking a financial hit from this problem, not of their making,” warned Mr Chestnutt.

The UFU has pressed for an early meeting with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots, to discuss the ongoing crisis facing the entire NI pig industry.