Pig Culls and Worker Shortages:
Just Another Reason to Choose Organic
Cracks in the economy, a recovering NHS system and a new societal norm are just a few of the lingering consequences of the pandemic. Not to mention the virus itself still doing the rounds, causing illness, isolation and continued chaos. But countrywide labour shortages across a worryingly large range of industries and the culling of purposely raised animals are perhaps side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that we didn’t see coming. With lots of talk around these subjects in the press and the ever-vocal social media sphere, we were left with a few questions on the topic that directly affect us at Eversfield Organic. Why is the UK so short of skilled workers and how can supporting organic at this time help to combat the animal culling issue?
Why Are We Short of Workers?
The combination of a worldwide pandemic and the finalisation of the UK leaving the EU (talk about bad timing) has left us scrapping for workers in a stark contrast to the job market of a few years ago. The meat industry alone has a long history of reliance upon foreign workers, with reports suggesting up to 70% of the workforce are born outside of Britain. Opening it up a little, a recent Grant Thompson report found the current wider food and drink industry to present a 13% vacancy rate, and with anything above 15% classed as critical, it’s more than just a little concerning.
Although the number of skilled workers has fallen drastically following Brexit and COVID, the decline is something we should have picked up on a while ago. In the meat sector specifically, the vacancy rate is at an alarming 15%, with 65% of vacant roles in butchery, but this shouldn’t be news to us. The longer-term decline in butchery can be traced back to a lack of young people taking up the trade, resulting in an ageing workforce and a lot of gaps to fill.
A lack of butchers, both skilled and in training, is something that is very apparent at Eversfield Organic. Like a lot of our competitors, we’re struggling to fill these much-needed job roles across our ever-growing business. But what are we doing to help? We understand that this problem is not one to be solved by money alone, so whilst we do offer competitive pay, we’re also focussed on the other benefits that working at Eversfield Organic can bring.
We’re proud to offer full training to all new workers, plus butchery apprenticeship schemes to help butchers in training get their qualification whilst also gaining real experience. Building a career, not just taking a job, is paramount to us, with examples right across the company of really growing alongside the business. Take our Technical Manager Dan as an example, who started as a butchery operative making our organic sausages and is now heading up the whole technical department at Eversfield Organic.
Alongside joining a sociable and friendly team, these opportunities also present working in a state-of-the-art butchery on our stunning farm in Bratton Clovelly, Devon with vacancies for entry-level, no experience needed roles all to the way to experienced butchers. And not to mention the free and discounted organic food - what more could you ask for? If it sounds like something you or someone you know may be interested in, please visit our Indeed jobs page for more information and to browse our openings across the business.
Where Do the Pigs Come In?
The reason it’s more important than ever to encourage a new generation into these types of careers is apparent with the current pig culling crisis. Everything we do on organic farms is to avoid this type of thing happening; the killing of intensively reared animals for no other reason than they take up too much space. Intensive farms who breed animals at a totally unnatural speed don’t have the room or resource to keep livestock for longer than their planned time, making a backlog inevitable.
With the shortage of butchers and abattoir workers, the unnecessary incineration of pigs has reported already begun, with a mass cull looking very likely soon. However, organic farmers and organic meat producers aren’t yet struck with the same problem. By organic standards, animals living on organic farms are given plenty of space to roam and live as naturally as possible. Their longer lives and slow rearing not only ensure a higher standard of animal welfare but also avoid this disappointing backlog of animals ready for slaughter.
When it comes to Eversfield Organic pork, the animal welfare standards are no different. Our Soil Association certification ensures our pigs are outdoor bred and reared and spend their entire lives outdoors, the way nature intended. As well as foraging for their own tasty treats, the pigs are fed an organic mixture to gain vital vitamins and minerals, producing a lean meat with defined contrast in the joints perfect for a wide range of organic pork products.
When you choose organic pork, you can rest assured that the animals were not subject to painful mutilations, crammed into a dirty living space or unnecessarily killed. If the labour shortages and pig cull has shown us anything, it’s that a mass switch to proper, sustainable and organic food production is more important than ever.