‘Don’t let Brexit obliterate us’: Pig farmers protest at Tory conference amid cull warning

4 October 2021, 15:00

A pig farmer protests outside the Conservative Party conference on Monday
A pig farmer protests outside the Conservative Party conference on Monday. Picture: Getty

By James Morris

Farmers dressed in pig costumes have protested outside the Conservative Party conference amid warnings that more than 100,000 pigs could be culled.

Pig farmers have demanded a temporary visa scheme to bring more butchers to the UK and avoid an “emotional and financial disaster”.

Farmers have argued butcher shortages could see up to 120,000 animals slaughtered on farms and then incinerated, because they cannot go to the abattoir and have nowhere left to house them.

In the protest outside the conference in Manchester this morning, one farmer held a placard reading: “Don’t let Brexit obliterate us, Boris.”

Another placard read: “Pulled pork not culled pork.”

Pig vet Duncan Berkshire, who was taking part in the protest, called for the government to provide visas of up to 18 months to “unleash” the “bottleneck” of animals.

Vicky Scott, a pig farmer from East Yorkshire, said ministers “don't appear to understand the problem”, adding “if we have to kill pigs on farm they can't go into the food chain. So it's just a huge waste.”

Protesters outside the Tory conference called for a visa scheme to bring more butchers to the UK
Protesters outside the Tory conference called for a visa scheme to bring more butchers to the UK. Picture: Getty

Boris Johnson appeared to be unaware of the problem when he was questioned on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday.

His initial response was to tell the presenter: "I hate to break it to you but I am afraid our food processing industry does involve the killing of a lot of animals. I think your viewers need to understand that."

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When it was pointed out to him the whole problem was that they could not be sold for food and they would have to be disposed of on the farms, he accused the presenter of "trying to obfuscate".

The prime minister added: "The great hecatomb of pigs that you describe has not yet taken place, let's see what happens."