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Lack of empathy as pig farmers face herd cull

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson glibly refused to acknowledge the difference between killing animals to go into the food chain and culling animals on farm and incinerating them, an award-winning Suffolk farmer has made the heart-wrenching decision to cull his entire 140 herd.

As reported in the Farmers Weekly, Peter Mortimer of Metfield in Suffolk started keeping pigs in 1964. Now 57 years later, with numerous awards for his endeavours, the perfect storm of labour shortages, price hikes on food, a lack of abattoir workers, increased haulage fees and the costs associated with not being able to move his pigs to market have combined to force his hand.

‘I feel if I just get rid of them all, I will be a lot happier. The labour issue, the Brexit issue, the energy issue. These aren’t the farmer’s issues but we are feeling the brunt of it. The situation is horrendous. Piglets are being killed because there is no room for them. The final straw was when I advertised for two jobs and I didn’t get a single applicant.’

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw, speaking to Times Radio, spoke of the lack of empathy and respect from the government was being felt across the pig farming community. ‘The cull has started,’ he said. ‘We have pigs being killed on farm because there is simply no way to get them to market. This is a tragic waste of food that has never happened before. It is absolutely needless and we have been highlighting this to government for months. The largest food processors have been asking for months for a migratory worker solution. That is not a long term solution but a short term solution is needed now.’

In an interview conducted by Tom Newton-Dunn at the Conservative conference, Johnson said: ‘100,000 pigs are going to die and I had to tell him of the sad fact that that is what happens to pigs – they die. They are eaten, in bacon sandwiches.’

Despite repeated attempts by the journalist, Johnson refused to accept the difference between pigs killed for consumption in the food chain and pigs culled because of a lack of capacity among the food processing workforce.

Pic credit: Photo by Casey DeViese on Unsplash