Food and farming committee presses Government on butcher visas

The chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee, Neil Parish MP has written to Foster​, minister for safe and legal migration at the Home Office, and copied in secretary of state for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice.

Foster gave evidence to the Committee earlier this week as part of its Labour Shortages in the Food and Farming Sector enquiry. During that session he accused the Home Office of not doing enough​ to solve the shortage of pork butchers in the UK by supplying sufficient visas for foreign workers in a timely, efficient manner.

At the meeting on 14 December, Foster, minister for safe and legal migration at the Home Office, reported that only one of the UK’s major four pork processors held the necessary licence to allow them to sponsor visa applicants.

Industry claims all four were sponsors

Subsequently, leading voices in the industry wrote to the Committee challenging the minister’s evidence and stating that all four were indeed sponsors.

In his letter, Parish writes: “At the start of the hearing, you told the Committee that: ‘… of the four big pork processors, only one currently has a skilled worker sponsor licence. One of the others let theirs expire in September last year, and we are waiting to see if the other two will actually make an application’.

“I assume the four processors you had in mind are Cranswick PLC, Karro Food Limited, Pilgrim’s Pride Ltd and WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC, which, we understand, together account for over 90% of the UK’s pork processing market.