Butchers and abattoir workers from overseas will be granted seasonal worker visas to deal with the backlog of pigs that need to be slaughtered, the government has announced.
Agriculture Secretary George Eustice said about 800 pig butchers from overseas are needed to get the situation under control and he expects to see them arriving in November.
He added that abattoirs will be offered private storage aid so they can temporarily store pork before going to market to clear the backlog.
However, Mr Eustice said the requirement for butchers to be fluent in English will not be dropped, as was expected.
The agriculture secretary said the loss of staff from the pig industry has “nothing to do with Brexit” and is down to lots of EU citizens leaving the UK during the pandemic.
Labour shortages, seen across several industries including HGV drivers, have been an aggravating factor but not the sole issue, he said.
He blamed lots of market disruptions during the pandemic, problems with access to the Chinese market – the world’s largest consumer of pork – and said there has been a 7% overproduction of pork in the UK.