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Farming labour shortages causing stress on food supply

A report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee has warned that labour shortages caused by Covid and new work visa restrictions in the wake of Brexit is having a huge impact on the farming and food sector.

MPs have called for the seasonal worker visa scheme to be expanded and for English language requirements on skilled workers to be eased to help address the issues. Defra has said it is continuing to work with the sector.

With almost quarter of the 2021 daffodil crop left unpicked, fruit left rotting in the field and 35,000 pigs incinerated or rendered down for lard, instead of entering the food chain, there is cause for huge concern.

The report has warned that ‘fundamental change’ is needed as the UK faces a storm of wage rises, price increases and food production being exported abroad.

Neil Parish is chair of the EFRA committee. He said the government’s attitude towards the plight of food and farming was disappointing. The committee spoke of the government’s failure to grasp the labour issues and a tendency for politicians to blame the sector for not doing more to tackle the problem.

The report calls for a radical rethink of labour strategy, alongside a long-term commitment to nurture home-grown talent, as well as tapping into innovation and technology.

Pic credit: Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash