Carbon dioxide shortage adds to “tsunami of problems” facing the pork industry


Pig farmers will be forced to “slaughter their own animals” to get rid of them if the situation in the industry does not change, the president of the National Pig Association has warned.

Rob Mutimer called on the government to “act now” to prevent the unnecessary destruction of thousands of animals as farms grapple with a lack of space and food due to supply chain issues.

The industry has been hit by the news that slaughterhouses are low on carbon dioxide (CO2), which is used in the humane slaughter of animals.

The problem was caused by the closure of two large fertilizer factories in the UK – which produce CO2 as a by-product – with owners citing rising gas prices as the reason for the shutdown.

This added to months of continued hardship due to a shortage of skilled workers, many of whom have returned to Eastern Europe, meaning slaughterhouses have already had to cut the number of animals by 25%. that they kill.

As a result, farmers are running out of space to house their livestock.

Mr Mutimer told the PA News Agency: “If the situation does not change, it is going to get completely out of control.

The CF Fertilizers plant in Billingham, Cleveland, which has been closed (Owen Humphreys / PA) (PA wire)

“And the only end is that we farmers are going to end up slaughtering our cattle – not for the food chain but to render them, to dispose of the carcasses like what happened in foot-and-mouth disease.

“And that’s a terrible situation to find yourself in.

“The mental health implications and financial implication for our members really can’t bear to think about it as they are in a terrible situation as we speak, let alone if it gets worse. “

In a meeting with industry leaders on Monday, the Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs reportedly “actively reviewed the situation” and the ministry agreed to hold daily meetings with the sector.

“From a pig farmer’s perspective, we are already in a lot of confusion to keep pigs away from farms and this is the perfect storm,” Mr. Mutimer said.

The UK pig industry is estimated to have lost 22,000 sows as farmers bow to the pressure (Joe Giddens / PA) (PA wire)

“How are we going to deal with the future with the pigs that don’t leave the farm and go through the supply chain, I don’t know.”

“We are looking at perhaps the biggest mountain that the pork industry has had to climb in the past two decades in my opinion,” he added.

“We desperately need the government to help us in the short term to make our production systems work.

“They worked these people very hard during the Covid period when there was unprecedented demand. And at the end of that, to find that the government is not supporting us in getting the manpower we need is really infuriating for many of us.

“Our farmers and members were absolutely desperate before this situation happened at the end of last week. They have recorded record losses, they have serious cash flow problems because they do not give the proceeds at the right time. It only makes it worse and turns into an even worse tsunami of problems facing our industry. “

The UK pig industry is estimated to have lost 22,000 sows as farmers fold under pressure, and more producers are expected to leave the industry in the coming months if the market does not improve.

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