UFU: Work continuing to address labour shortages

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says efforts are ongoing to achieve a solution to overcome the issue of labour availability in the processing sector.

This has been severely impacting Northern Ireland (NI) farms for a very lengthy period and in particular, pig farms are under increasing pressure.

UFU president Victor Chestnutt, pictured, said: “We are continuing to lobby to get some sort of resolution to labour shortages and are aware of the mounting pressure that it is putting on our members across NI.

“While is it affecting various commodities, pig producers are taking the biggest hit and are being left to manage a significant back log on-farm because they’ve been unable to send their usual drove of pigs to processors.

“Time is running out. Our pig farmers do not have the capacity to house extra pigs for much longer. Their cash low has been seriously disrupted and they’re struggling to keep up with the input costs while not receiving any income because they can’t get pigs shifted. The sector is coming to a breaking point.”

The UFU president recently met with Home Secretary Priti Patel and put forward various options to reach a solution. Engagement with local political representatives is also continuing.

“Despite an encouraging response from the Home Secretary during our meeting in London, UKG recently announced their intent to facilitate a temporary visa for poultry workers which is 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 and yet the industry is being seriously threatened by a lack of processing labour. It’s already beginning to have a knock-on affect on consumers and product availability.

“UKG has the ability to solve this labour availability issue once and for all, and we urge them to act promptly before the situation becomes a crisis,” said Mr Chestnutt.