AN MP wants action to stop the mass slaughter of healthy pigs on farms because of a shortage of slaughterhouse workers.

Farmers have been forced to kill animals to make space and ensure the continued welfare of their livestock, amid an ongoing shortage of workers at slaughterhouses.

Dr Neil Hudson, for Penrith and The Border, has written to the Government to stop the slaughtering of healthy pigs on British farms.

In a statement, Dr Hudson said: “As a veterinary surgeon during the Foot and Mouth crisis, I supervised the culling of many animals on farm for disposal and thus which were not going into the food supply chain.

"I know first-hand how distressing this is for farmers, vets and slaughter workers alike. We must avoid this at all costs for animal and human welfare reasons and also to avoid significant and senseless waste of good-quality food.

"I am making representations to Government on this and have written to the Prime Minister, Home Secretary and the DEFRA Secretary. I am urging the Government to act swiftly across Government to prevent this disaster unfolding.

"I am urging the Home Office and DEFRA to work closely together to take measures to allow sufficient meat processing and related workers into the sector by amending visa requirements and English Language Requirements.

"On the Commons EFRA Committee, on which I sit, our most recent report, ‘Movement of Animals Across Borders’, we identified the importance of monitoring and maintaining UK veterinary capacity which currently is below what we need as a country.

"In addition we highlighted the importance of supporting and bolstering the abattoir network in the UK which is under strain and vital for our national food security.

"The Government needs to act quickly to avert this animal welfare emergency and put measures in place to mitigate against it happening again.”

A Government spokesperson said:

“The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain – which has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges.

“This year we expanded the Seasonal Workers Pilot to 30,000 visas for workers to come to the UK for up to six months.

"We continue to work closely with industry to understand labour demand and supply, including both permanent and seasonal workforce requirements.

“However, we want to see employers make long term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad and our Plan for Jobs is helping people across the country retrain, build new skills and get back into work.

"We are keeping the market situation under close review and working closely with the sector during this time.”