The UFU (Ulster Farmers’ Union) has warned that Northern Ireland’s pig sector is “coming to a breaking point”.
The farm group stressed that “time is running out” as “pig farmers do not have the capacity to house extra pigs for much longer”.
It said its efforts to overcome the issue of labour availability in the processing sector are ongoing.
The UFU stressed this has been “severely” impacting Northern Ireland farms for a “very lengthy” period. Pig farms, in particular, are under increasing pressure.
Northern Ireland’s pig sector
UFU president, Victor Chestnutt, said: “We are continuing to lobby effortlessly to get some resolution to labour shortages and are aware of the mounting pressure that it is putting on our members across NI.”
“While it affects various commodities, pig producers are taking the biggest hit and are being left to manage a significant backlog on-farm.”
“They have been unable to send their usual drove of pigs to processors,” Chestnutt added.
Therefore, he added pig farmers’ cash flow has been “seriously” disrupted.
“They are struggling to keep up with the input costs while not receiving any income because they cannot get pigs shifted.”
The UFU president recently met with Home Secretary, Priti Patel and put forward various options to reach a solution.
The farm group’s engagement with local political representatives is also continuing.
It received an “encouraging” response from the Home Secretary during its meeting in London.
Furthermore, UKG recently announced their intent to facilitate a temporary visa for poultry workers.
However, the UFU views this as “nothing more than a drop in the ocean as far as a solution is concerned”.
“The demand for pork products remains as strong as ever. Yet, the industry is being seriously threatened by a lack of processing labour.”
Chestnutt pointed out that it is already beginning to have a knock-on impact on consumers and product availability.
“UKG can solve this labour availability issue once and for all. We urge them to act promptly before the situation becomes a crisis,” he concluded.