Pig farmers may be forced to slaughter their own animals as abattoirs run out of the carbon dioxide that is used to stun them before slaughter, a farming boss has said.
Rob Mutimer, who is the chairman of the National Pig Association, said that the government must act quickly to prevent the destruction of thousands of animals as farms face a “tsunami” of supply chain issues.
The shortage of carbon dioxide follows the closure of two British fertiliser plants which produced CO2 as a by-product, with owners pointing to the hike in gas prices as their reason for shutting down.
The problem is only compounded by the ongoing shortage of workers — brought about in part by Covid and Brexit — which has meant that abattoirs have already reduced the numbers of animals they kill by a quarter.
Mr Mutimer told PA: “If the situation doesn’t change, it’s going to spiral completely out of control.
“And the only endgame there is we as farmers are going to end up slaughtering our livestock — not for the food chain but to put them into rendering, to dispose of carcasses like what happened in foot and mouth.”
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) was said to be “actively looking at the situation” in a meeting with industry leaders, having agreed to hold daily conferences with members of the farming sector.
Mr Mutimer called on the government to help farms get their production systems working as the sector face a “tsunami of problems”.
Staff “worked really hard” during the coronavirus lockdowns when there was “unprecedented demand”, he said, adding: “And at the end of that, to find the government isn’t supporting us by getting the labour we need is really galling to many of us”.
The British pig industry is estimated to have already lost 22,000 sows as farmers fold under the pressures the sector faces.
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