The global supply shortages, through farmers' eyes

The world's supply chain problems are continuing to lead to shortages, backlogs, or empty store shelves in several countries.

And at this pig farm in quiet, rural Yorkshire in northern England, a farmer's tale shows one tiny facet of this much wider and complicated story:

Simply put, there's too many pigs, and not enough butchers, and two sisters Kate Morgan and Vicky Scott are afraid that animal farmers like them are going to collapse under the financial burden.

"We are doing everything in our power to not cull on the farm, we are juggling everything trying to put pigs where maybe they shouldn't be so that we don't get to that situation but it something that is always in the back of our minds that it is getting closer and closer to that day."

"It is like pressure we have never had before. Emotionally it's absolutely draining, financially it is crippling. Yeah we are in a fairly bad place right now. The pig industry are in desperate need of some help, hopefully the government are listening to us now but it is critical, it is very time critical and we need them to do something now."

This particular supply problem is specific to the UK. As the pigs gain weight, from being stuck on the farm, they risk going over a threshold at which slaughterhouses impose fines on the farmers because the animals are too big to handle. In the meantime, farmers Morgan and Scott are losing money because they can't sell the pigs for meat.

So why aren't there enough butchers? A combination of COVID -- which is affecting every industry -- and Brexit. A very large chunk of the UK's migrant labor comes from Eastern Europe. But because of Brexit and tighter immigration rules, many of those workers have left... including butchers and abattoirs.

The loss of Eastern European truckers has exacerbated the country's supply issues as well, leading to more empty store shelves.

The farmer sisters want the government to relax immigration rules, but it's given no indication that it will.

The prime minister says businesses became too dependent on cheap migrant labor, and need to invest in technology and higher wages to bring in British workers.

Scott says the farm has frequently raised their wages, but it's not enough -- the problems are in the meat processors, not their farm.

...and that higher wages also mean higher food prices.

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