A major farming organisation has urged the government to focus on permanent supply of EU labour into the UK
A major farming organisation in the UK has urged the government to ensure long term future supply of migrant labour in agriculture. It insisted that the government must encourage full time workers in the agricultural sector. In its submission to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee inquiry into agricultural labour shortages MPs, the National Pig Association (NPA) insisted that unlike past schemes, future policies must not be restricted to short-term seasonal work.
Citing its EU labour survey conducted in the autumn, the NPA said that more than half (55 per cent) of pig businesses in the UK employed non-UK workers, out of which European nationals constitute 94 per cent. It was also found during the survey that EU workers are considering leaving the UK due to the uncertainty prevailing over brexit. This has made it difficult for UK employers and 64 per cent of those employing EU labour are having difficult times since the UK referendum to leave the EU. According to the survey, one in three employers said that at least one worker has already left the UK since the brexit vote.
The NPA said that whilst many businesses in the pig supply chain such as abattoirs, hauliers and processors do require seasonal labour, the vast majority of NPA members require permanent labour. It said that pig production is continuous, not seasonal, and good stockmanship requires an individual’s ongoing interaction with a pig herd and their intuition over the animals they are caring for. It further said, because the majority of roles tend to be permanent, it means that individuals working on pig farms have to think seriously about their employment future, and opportunities for their family, as opposed to seasonal labour which provides greater flexibility.
The survey stated that 90% of businesses said that they employed migrant workers on a permanent basis. The NPA termed the crisis ‘looming’ for the pig sector and suggested possible solutions. It recommended employing unskilled workers or those who are not educated to degree level in future immigration policies for the sector. The NPA also called for improving the Visa process which is often marred by delays and complications.