Government announces large-scale plans to tackle supply chain issues

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Plans to tackle labour shortages in the food supply chain have been announced by the UK government.

In a public release, it has said that it will further fund technology to reduce the reliance on migrant labour and “provide certainty and clarity” for farms across the nation.

It comes following an independent review into labour shortages in supply chains, headed by chair John Shropshire.

10 key criteria were laid out as the next steps in securing the future of local supply chains.

These included making the domestic sector “more attractive”, and allowing farms more access to labour aid from overseas workers.

In response, the government says they will implement a series of new measures to support the industry.

These include extending the seasonal worker visa route for five years until 2029. This means 43,000 visas will be available to the horticulture sector in 2025, with another 2,000 visas for poultry.

Further details on the number of visas available for 2026 to 2029 will be set out later this year.

The government will also look to bring robotic crop pickers level with humans in three to five years alongside creating a strategy to enhance skills provision and attract domestic workers.

A further £50m is to be put towards automating technology for packhouses.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said: “We have a world-class food and drink sector, and the measures announced today will strengthen this by boosting funding for the cutting-edge technology that will reduce reliance on migrant labour in the long term.”

“Businesses do best when they can plan effectively for the future, which is why we’ve extended the seasonal worker visa route until 2029 to give farmers and growers the certainty they need to thrive.”

The government will also work to improve the sector for domestic workers, delivering regional recruitment strategies to support agricultural jobseekers.

Other factors laid out in the independent review have yet to be addressed however, such as producing a workforce data strategy to improve access to statistical analysis.

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