Two prominent growers in South Lincolnshire have separately called for urgent changes to the UK’s employment rules in order to solve the worsening horticultural labour crisis.
Writing in her local paper, flower grower Johanna Musson, said, “I started my role as NFU County Adviser for the Holland (Lincs) area one month ago. A key current issue is the extreme labour shortages in the area, both seasonal and permanent. The horticultural and ornamental sectors are particularly badly affected with very little support currently available to them.
“Farm businesses have done everything that they can to recruit staff domestically. But even the increasingly competitive wages have not had the impact they needed as the labour pool is so limited… The main ask in the report is for a 12-month Covid 19 Recovery Visa to enable all involved in the supply chain to recruit critical roles. This is a cross-sector (Food and Farming) ask and a short-term measure to get businesses through the current crisis.”
Elsewhere Adam Taylor, director of Holbeach-based Taylors Bulbs warned that labour issues would be a challenge for the foreseeable future. “For Taylors, it will continue way past the end of the furlough scheme,” he said. “Unemployment in the geographical area of our farm is low – we can’t move our production elsewhere – and there is a distinct lack of applicants due to the enormous competition from other businesses in the area.
“Some work such as cropping daffodil flowers has previously been fulfilled by people who jump from harvesting edible crops one day to ornamental the next. For a mixed agricultural and horticultural business such as ours to be denied the ability to employ the same EU worker to harvest all our crops also impacts our edible production as well. It’s farcical.”
Picture caption: Taylors now farm over 750 hectares of which over 150 ha are daffodils.