‘Big vegetarian impact!’ BBC QT audience takes swipe at veggies over butcher shortages

BBC Question audience takes swipe at veggies over butcher shortage

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A member of the public has told BBC Questions Time the ongoing shortage of butchers in the UK is down to Britons not taking up jobs in the meat industry. The man blamed the reluctance of Britons to work in abattoirs on the growth of vegetarianism which he argued had a big impact. To fix the shortage the meat industry has called on the Government to introduce a temporary visa scheme to bring more butchers into the UK.

The man told the BBC Question Time panel: “It is about people not wanting to do the jobs that are on offer in the abattoirs.

“Maybe it is the conditions but it is also now a lot of people don’t want to cut up meat.

“There is a big vegetarian impact and it has grown so much.

“So it is how do we encourage British people into this trade.”

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It comes as Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association told Sky News that tens of thousands of butchers are needed and the training period for each is around 18 months.

He said: “We’re short of skilled-up butchers and these aren’t people you can just pull off the street and put in the process. It takes time to train these people and we’re about 10,000 to 15,000 people short.

“It takes 18 months to train a butcher and get them up and running, so we’re looking for some help here to manage the transition, not just stopping everything overnight.

“We’ve had a long-term reliance on non-UK labour and it’s going to take a long time to adjust.”

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Pig farmers took to protesting outside the Conservative Party conference on Monday, arguing a lack of skilled butchers could lead to the “emotional and financial disaster” of tens of thousands of UK pigs being killed for waste.

Farmers have warned that a shortage of butchers could see up to 120,000 animals slaughtered on farms and then incinerated because they cannot go to the abattoir and they have nowhere left to house them.

Pig farmers were protesting outside the Tory conference in Manchester on Monday morning, calling for a temporary visa scheme to bring more butchers into the UK.

They held up placards saying: “No butchers. No bacon. No British pig industry.”


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Vicky Scott, a pig farmer based in East Yorkshire, said the protesting pig farmers had come from all across the country.

She told PA: “There is a huge crisis going on in UK pig farms at the moment.”

Ms Scott said: “For about the last 11 weeks we have been reduced in our contracted pigs going in to slaughter by 25%, so there is an estimated 150,000 extra pigs on farm. And obviously, that’s growing every day.”

She added: “Right now the blame has got to be with the Government because they don’t appear to understand the problem, and the problem is massive and really real. And we’re being forced into making the decision as to whether to kill pigs on farm.

“Obviously, if we have to kill pigs on farm they can’t go into the food chain. So it’s just a huge waste. It’s immoral really that we are going to be forced into this position.”

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