‘Slight movement’ on the UK government’s stance, with the announcement that it will issue 800 six-month visas for the pork processing sector to address ongoing labour shortages, has been welcomed by the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).
“After a long period of intense lobbying by the UFU, we are glad that finally, some positive progression has been made on the issue of labour shortages,” said William Irvine, deputy president, UFU.
“Processors across Northern Ireland have been seriously understaffed for quite some time now and this has been putting pressure on our farmers to house extra livestock as well as impacting their cashflow, especially when you take into account ongoing high feed prices.
“However, while the movement on temporary visas is an encouraging start to help fill the vacancies in the processing plants and hopefully, help them to get back to the level of processing that is required, we fear it’s not going to fix the problem entirely, but it may be a start.
“The number of temporary visas granted do fall short, but we appreciate the government making them available to workers outside the UK. In the meantime, we will continue to engage at the highest level.
“Other food processing sectors must not be forgot about as labour affects across the board. We will ensure that work continues to overcome this labour shortage completely and drive the industry away from a looming crisis.”