A CUMBRIAN MP has accused the Home Office of 'not listening' on food security and the animal welfare crisis.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee questioned the Minister for Safe and Legal Migration at the Home Office, Kevin Foster MP in a special session looking at the labour shortages in the food and farming sectors.

The Chair of the Committee, Neil Parish MP, said: “Labour shortages in the food and farming sector have caused a human and animal welfare crisis. But the Home Office is simply not listening. It is not supplying enough visas for foreign workers in a timely, efficient manner. Employers need workers and cannot get them in time.

“Pigs are being culled and wasted because there are not enough butchers in the abattoirs. Fruit is rotting on trees and crops are not being planted.There appears to be a disconnect between this reality and what Mr Foster says. Again and again during our evidence session he said visa systems were in place to resolve the labour shortages. The food and farming sector tells us this is not the case.”

Dr Neil Hudson MP for Penrith and The Border and member of the EFRA Committee said:

“We questioned the Home Office about their actions in the face of the labour crisis facing the food and farming sectors. I raised the human and animal welfare crisis that we are facing, with already over 16000 pigs having been culled on farm because there isn’t the meat processing workforce in place to handle the supply.

“As a vet who supervised the slaughter of many animals on farm during Foot and Mouth, I know first-hand the distressing consequences for all concerned.The Home Office Minister’s responses to our Committee were deeply disappointing and inadequate. I urge the Government to get a grip and act quickly to avert this avoidable crisis facing our farming sector.”

Recently Dr Hudson asked Government to close the loophole on Public Sector Food Buying Rules.“It is so important that we uphold our high animal welfare and food production standards both in international trade deals but also in our domestic public sector food procurement.”