Oh BoJo, what are you playing at? I hate to say it, but the past few weeks have really shown us what our self-proclaimed “farm-loving, country-boy” prime minister truly thinks of our industry.
His recent disdain for the mass slaughter of pigs across the country really is the final straw. His interview with Andrew Marr was embarrassing.
Just two years ago, the Tory leader vowed to back Britain’s farmers as he outlined his post-Brexit plans for our industry.
Granted, a lot has changed since then and hindsight is a wonderful thing when it comes to a global pandemic, but he seems to have hugely failed at keeping his word.
Only at the start of the month, farming and other industries were pretty much told to stop whingeing and get on with things, as the PM addressed his party.
This, in the middle of the potential culling of 150,000 healthy British pigs, doesn’t sit right with me. It comes alongside the recent fuel crisis (which still hasn’t passed), and concerns about a food shortage due to a lack of HGV drivers.
Ideas for potential solutions are being thrown around, but they all seem far too temporary. The government seems to be living in a fairy-tale land, where wages will increase and the unemployed will flock to fill the labour shortages.
But these jobs – picking, processing, slaughterhouses, butchery – are tough and we simply don’t have the people willing to do them.
As the girlfriend of a butcher, I can vouch that the hours are long and the work is hard, and it’s still two months until Christmas…
And what happens if wages do go up and these labour shortages are filled? Who foots that increased bill in cost of production? Does it get pushed on to the consumer?
It seems unlikely, which leaves farmers and producers contending with even higher costs of production, but little recognition for our fantastic standards.
Thankfully though, due to the hard work of the National Pig Association and the NFU in pushing to get emergency visas for butchers, it seems that the “better Christmas” BoJo promised may come complete with pigs in blankets and a joint of gammon, after all.
It’s absolutely not a permanent fix, though, as the term “temporary visas” implies.