The NFU has responded to Defra’s recent announcement regarding its Independent Review into Labour Shortages in the Food Supply Chain; urging Defra to also consider the ‘now’.
NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw said: “We have long highlighted the impacts of workforce pressures across the food and farming sector so this review is much needed.”
“We hope it will act as a catalyst for government to take action to ensure the food supply chain has the workforce it needs to continue producing, picking, packing and processing high quality, affordable and sustainable food for the nation.”
However, Mr Bradshaw notes that farmers and growers are concerned about how they will get the workforce they need right now. “The review cannot overlook the immediate and pressing issues the food supply chain is facing as we speak,” he added.
“With this review taking place imminently, it’s important that the government no longer delays commissioning the Migration Advisory Committee’s review of the Shortage Occupation List. This will look at jobs where there is a shortage of suitable workers in the UK and where it is sensible to fill those shortages with migrant workers, so will play a big role in determining job shortages across the food supply chain.”
Mr Bradshaw also said that the NFU is urging Defra to expand their review to include the British ornamental plant sector – which contributes roughly £1.4 billion to the UK economy.
“It is currently not included which means it could face significant waste and financial losses due to workforce shortages, thereby reducing its current positive contribution to the country overall,” he concluded.