A recent BBC segment explored the farming crisis that is sweeping across England. Pork producers have prematurely killed tens of thousands of pigs in recent months due to worker shortages. Rather than being sold as meat, the animals are simply discarded.
It comes just two days after the BBC aired undercover footage from a dairy farm, which sparked outrage due to animal welfare violations and raised questions surrounding ethical meat production. The broadcaster itself, said to be the largest broadcast news operation in the world, named the videos “disturbing” and “shocking.”
But its newly released program, Crisis on the Farm, takes a different approach. The segment chiefly focuses on a pork operation run by farmers Kate and Vicky Morgan, and looks at the hardships the sisters have faced in the industry as meat producers.
The effects of the pandemic and Brexit are still weighing heavily on the meat sector, the BBC reports, as the industry struggles with a shortage of abattoir workers.
As a result, British farms are experiencing a “backlog” of an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 pigs who are waiting for slaughter.
Amid dwindling resources and insufficient space to house the “overweight” animals, many farmers “had no option but to cull their pigs, meaning they wouldn’t enter the food chain,” the BBC said.
The Morgan sisters’ farm is one of the many navigating the issue; 5,000 of their pigs are waiting to be sent to an abattoir.
They said they know of around 35,000 to 40,000 pigs who have already been culled and “wasted” in the UK.
‘This is not our fault’
The circumstances have placed “huge emotional and financial pressure” on the Morgan sisters, the broadcaster added. They told the BBC that British farmers are losing between £30 to £40 for every pig they sell.
The sisters have begun to look at the sector differently now, they said. “It makes us more cynical about the industry that we’re in – we’re probably not as enthused about it,” Vicky explained, per the Yorkshire Post.
During the program, Vicky’s sister and business partner Kate elaborated: “It’s just so out of our control. If it was something that we’d done, if we’d made a bad decision for the business then, yeah, it would be difficult, but you know it would be our fault. This is not our fault. This is not the farmers’ fault.”
Earlier this month, the Morgans partook in a campaign aimed at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). Up to 30 farmers rallied, some wearing “Save Our Bacon” t-shirts, to urge the government to take action and help protect the pork industry.
Mass culling in the chicken industry
Similar problems are rife in the chicken sector as of late. Last month, a viral video showed Canadian slaughterhouse workers throwing out tens of thousands of dead birds.
It was reported that 52,000 chickens lost their lives at the facility, and did not go on to be used for food. Non-profit Animal Justice said that instead, they were “discarded like trash.”
“Canadian farmers have repeatedly killed animals on farms during the pandemic when they couldn’t send animals to slaughter in their usual precisely timed manner,” Animal Justice said about the issue.
“When there are delays, the system completely falls apart,” the charity added.