Wednesday, 27 Oct 2021

Pigs killed after large fire breaks out at farm in Oxfordshire

A number of pigs are believed to have died after a major fire broke out at a farm.

Five fire engines and two water carriers were sent to tackle the blaze near Wallingford in Oxfordshire after the alarm was raised on Thursday afternoon.

The fire generated “significant smoke” in the area, around 13 miles south of Oxford, and residents were advised to close doors and windows.

In a statement on Facebook, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “The fire is in an agricultural unit, where a number of pigs are known to have sadly have been involved.”

The blaze comes after UK farmers warned that up to 120,000 pigs could be culled as a shortage of butchers and abattoir workers had led to a backlog of animals ready for slaughter.

It has meant farms are running out of space to keep the animals that should already have gone for meat, raising welfare concerns.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson drew criticism from farmers for appearing to make light of the situation by pointing out the pigs would be killed and made into bacon anyway.

An acute labour shortage in the meat processing industry has been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the UK’s post-Brexit immigration rules, which have restricted the flow of east European workers.

The sector has said the situation is now becoming critical and again pressed the government to relax the visa rules to fill the labour gap.

The government has already announced a plan to issue temporary visas for 5,000 foreign lorry drivers and 5,500 poultry workers to ease shortages.

But ministers argue businesses should invest in their workforce and improve pay and conditions.

Meanwhile, the prime minister has appointed the former boss of Tesco as an expert supply chain adviser as the government bids to avert a delivery crisis in the run-up to Christmas.

Sir David Lewis, former chief executive of the supermarket giant, will assist the government on both immediate improvements and any necessary long-term changes to UK supply chains for goods, Downing Street said.

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