An excess of gammon may be causing a shortage of gammon and if you are reading that back with a furrowed brow allow us to explain.

Gammon and pigs in blankets are the latest goods that could be affected by the worker shortage, caused in part by EU workers leaving the UK after Brexit (which so-called gammons, among others, voted for).

The government has agreed to issue temporary visas for up to 5,500 poultry workers and 5,000 HGV drivers in order to supply the country with turkey dinners and deliveries ahead of the festive season. But people have warned this may not be sufficient to plug the gap and, regardless, this might not guarantee the supply of other meats in high demand.

David Lindars, technical operations director of the British Meat Processors Association, told POLITICO there would be a particular impact on “very labor-intensive products like pigs in blankets, decorated gammon and party food” and that time was running out to fix the problem.

“Even if we were granted seasonal workers’ visas, by the time they’ve got the scheme up and running the whole process means they will only end up with six or seven weeks’ work here,” he said. “Who’s going to come, or leave a job somewhere in Europe, to come here for six or seven weeks? No one.”

He said the average meat-processing company is operating with a shortage of staff at around 15 per cent, and in some parts of the U.K., firms are reporting a 25 per cent shortage.

Meanwhile, Sam Ette, a spokesman for the National Farmers Union, said: “There are serious issues with labor shortages, which mean that some produce is unable to be harvested in the case of fruit and veg, or slaughtered and processed in the case of poultry and pigs. With pigs in particular, there are serious issues of pigs backing up on farms due to a lack of butchers in the food-supply chain.”

It comes amid ongoing issues including but not limited to fuel shortages, empty supermarket shelves, and a lack of milk. As well as Brexit, the coronavirus crisis has caused a huge backlog in drivers waiting to take their tests.

A government spokesperson told the publication: “We understand the importance of seasonal labor and we are aware of the challenges that the red meat industry has faced in recent months because of the COVID-19 pandemic and labor shortages, and Defra has been working closely with red meat processing sectors during this time.”

The spokesperson said ministers would “keep the market under close review” and continue to “explore options to address the pressures industry is currently facing.”

Turkeys voted for Christmas but now Christmas is cancelled.

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