Farmers need flexible and competent workforce, NFU tells Peers

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NFU Deputy President Minette Batters was invited to give oral evidence to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee. She raised concerns about post-Brexit labour costs and access to competent workers. The NFU had already submitted its written evidence.

Mrs Batters said this was an “excellent opportunity” to raise our concerns, as well as to offer our suggestions as to how the potential problems could be addressed.

“We have made no secret of the fact that a lack of labour will lead to a number of consequences for UK agriculture, including a reduction is the area of crops planted, a hold on investment impacting profitability and the likelihood of food price inflation for shoppers,” she said before the briefing.

“This will be an excellent opportunity to talk about the challenges we face, including setting out our call for a seasonal agricultural permit scheme to be in place for this year so we can harvest and pack our crops.

“We also need reassurances from government that EU citizens already working here should have right of residency. On top of this, we urge the government to ask the Migration Advisory Committee to undertake research and evidence into the sector and to make recommendations to government.

“It’s also essential that government commits to consultation and discussion on controlled access to labour for the medium to long-term.”