NFU responds to announcement of Defra review into labour shortages

Close up shot of a worker's hands cutting watercress crop

The NFU has responded to Defra’s launch of an independent review into labour shortages within the food supply chain, highlighting the importance of immediate action to alleviate workforce pressures.

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.

“While there must be a focus on long term workforce requirements and business resilience in the future, including things like boosting domestic recruitment and automation, farmers and growers are seriously concerned about how they will get the workforce they need right now. This review cannot overlook the immediate and pressing issues the food supply chain is facing as we speak.

“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.

“We also urge Defra to expand this review to include the British ornamental plant sector, which contributes a huge £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.”  

Read the Defra announcement here.