Labour shortage reaching ‘crisis point’ for agricultural sector

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Labour shortage reaching “crisis point” for agricultural sector
The agricultural industry is reaching a “crisis point” due to labour shortages, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee chair Neil Parish MP has claimed.

His call comes after the committee took evidence from Caroline Nokes MP, minister for immigration at the Home Office, and George Eustice MP, minister for agriculture, fisheries and food at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Little confidence

Following the session, Parish said the committee had “little confidence”​ that real action was being taken to ensure a workers’ scheme for the agricultural sector was being put in place. He called for clarity for business and workers from the Government.

“The agricultural industry is reaching a crisis point,” ​he said. “The UK’s food and agricultural sectors are hugely reliant on foreign labour. This is unsustainable; food has been left to rot in the ground this year due to labour shortages.

Communication breakdown

“There has clearly been a breakdown in communication between Defra and the Home Office over the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS). In February, Michael Gove has stated that an announcement over SAWS would be made ‘shortly’, but today we have heard that it is unlikely to happen in 2018. This is simply not good enough.”

“The Home Office and Defra should take the SAWS seriously, and action should be taken at the earliest possible moment. The Government is consulting widely, but now is the time for action, not more reports.”

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