Yorkshire pig farmer says it's 'criminal' animals will be culled and dumped while people are starving

A pig farmer has said it is "criminal" that she faces the prospect of culling animals and dumping them in landfill within weeks while some people are struggling to feed their families.

Kate Morgan said that unless the Government acts to solve the shortage of butchers in processing plants by issuing short-term visas for foreign workers, she may have to cull pigs on her East Yorkshire farm before the end of the month.

Ms Morgan said: "This is just criminal. There are people starving in this world. Even in this country there are people who can't feed their families, yet Boris (Johnson) is quite happy to let us waste good healthy food - healthy protein he's prepared to put in the bin.

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"We're desperate for Boris to listen to us."

At least 600 healthy pigs have already been culled due to a nationwide labour shortage in abattoirs, the chief executive of the National Pig Association (NPA) has said.

With her sister Vicky, Ms Morgan is the second generation of her family to farm pigs near Driffield. The farm has 1,700 breeding sows and they sell about 90,000 pigs a year.

But she said the number of pigs leaving for processing has dropped by 25 per cent in the last 11 weeks.

Ms Morgan said the 12-month cycle of pig breeding means they cannot "just turn off the tap" and she already has animals in buildings they would not normally be put in.

Asked how long it will be before they have to consider culling, she said: "I spent quite a lot of time looking at it yesterday, which was quite emotional, but I think, by the end of October we will be really struggling to the point it's inevitable.

"We're speaking to other producers all the time and everyone's in the same boat. This has never happened in any country before. No country has ever thrown away good wholesome food. It's just absolutely horrendous.

"Financially, we're seriously hit at the moment. We're losing money every day, but that's not even our biggest worry. Our biggest worry is the emotional part of it - the welfare of the animals.

"We care for and nurture these animals, we breed them to feed the nation, we don't breed them to go into landfill. Emotionally, it's really hard work and it is really draining.

Boris need to be thinking about the welfare of farmers as well, because it is really dire."

She said they are seriously considering stopping the continuous breeding programme - a move which could mean the end of the business.

Ms Morgan joined a demonstration outside the Conservative Party conference on Monday and said she had a good meeting with farming minister Victoria Prentis, adding: "I think she get's it."

But after Mr Johnson responded to concerns that more than 100,000 animals may have to be culled by pointing out that they were all destined to die anyway, Ms Morgan said his comments were an "absolute insult" and a "kick in the teeth".

Ms Morgan said: "What a baffoon he is. I did actually support him before all of this but this is an insult to our industry. He clearly doesn't get it. Farmers are going out of business now, it's happening now. It's a problem that is so easily fixed and it's only a short-term problem.

"The industry has never had any subsidy from the Government. We are self-sufficient. We pay well. We export. We get tax for the country. We do add something to this country. None of this is the farmers' fault."

A Government spokesman said: "We understand the challenges that the pig industry has faced in recent months because of the Covid-19 pandemic, labour shortages, accessing CO2 supplies, and reduction in exports to the Chinese market.

"We are keeping the market situation under close review and working closely with the sector during this time."

The Government said it is encouraging the sector to make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers and said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is working to raise awareness of career opportunities within the food and farming sectors among UK workers.

It said Defra is also working closely with the Home Office to ensure there is a long-term strategy for the food and farming workforce.