The food and farming industries have renewed calls for a Covid recovery visa as the labour crisis worsens in all sectors, including horticulture.
The NFU and 11 other organisations have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson following an emergency roundtable which was convened on 21 September. They are calling for three key actions to help save the ongoing labour crisis, including:
The introduction of a 12-month Covid Recovery Visa to enable the supply chain to recruit critical roles in the short-term; commitment to a permanent, revised and expanded Seasonal Worker Scheme for UK horticulture; and an urgent review by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on the impact of ending free movement on the food and farming sector.
Other organisations behind the letter include the Agricultural Industries Confederation, Food & Drink Federation, Federation of Wholesale Distributers, and the Road Haulage Association.
The letter said, “The letter to the Prime Minister said: “The food and farming sector remains on a knife edge due to the unprecedented shortages of workers across the entire supply chain. The industry came together in the summer to evidence these challenges, and the final report showed that there are an estimated 500,000 unfilled vacancies across the industry.
“The situation is not improving, in fact, images of empty supermarket shelves are becoming commonplace as labour shortages bite. As we move towards Christmas, there is a substantial threat of food inflation directly impacting the poorest families…
“It is a travesty that this is happening in parallel with UK food producers disposing of perfectly edible food as it either cannot be picked, packed, processed or transported to the end customer. Every day there are new examples of food waste across the industry, from chicken to pork, fruit and vegetables, dairy and many other products. The food is there, but it needs people to get it to the consumers.”
Picture Caption: The food industry has called for measures to solve the worsening labour crisis.