NFU Scotland pressures Government on labour crisis

By Gwen Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Martin Kennedy (pictured): 'The impact can no longer be absorbed by farmers and the food and drink industry'
Martin Kennedy (pictured): 'The impact can no longer be absorbed by farmers and the food and drink industry'

Related tags: labour, Supply chain

The National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland has joined with businesses and organisations across the industry calling for immediate action from the Government to address the labour crisis affecting the food and drink sector.

In its letter to Kevin Foster MP – parliamentary under secretary of state and minister for Future Borders and Immigration – NFU Scotland made four specific asks of the Government.

  • The introduction of a 12-month Covid recovery visa for the food and drink supply chain and allow employers to expand recruitment to EU and other overseas workers.
  • Commission an urgent review by the Migration Advisory Committee on the needs of the agricultural, food and drink sectors.
  • Review the Seasonal Workers Pilot (SWP) scheme and replace it with an improved permanent scheme that works for both farm businesses and seasonal migrant workers. 
  • A firm commitment from the UK Government to help secure a future workforce for the long term.

Echoed voices

The Union was one of many organisation from across the food and drink industry that have urged the Government to take urgent action on tackling the labour crisis in the industry over the apst week.

Its calls echoed those made by Heck founder and managing director Andrew Keeble,​ who warned of food shortages over Christmas is Government doesn’t step up to and address the lack of labour across the food and drink supply chain.

NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy said: “I urge the UK Government to act. The concerns that I raise on behalf of farmers in Scotland are echoed by farming, food and drink organisations across the UK. I am in no doubt that without action, the current disruption will only worsen.

Implications steadily building

“A shortage of both permanent and seasonal workers, combined with a lack of haulage drivers and processing staff, is seriously impacting agricultural, food and drink businesses across Scotland. The implications of this ongoing shortage for business and the economy have been steadily building and the impact can no longer be absorbed by farmers and the food and drink industry.

Kennedy pointed to the empty supermarket shelves and the impact on consumers, ramifications of the shortages that were now in plain sight for all to see.

 “NFU Scotland calls on the UK Government to take immediate action on labour to ensure that agriculture can continue to sustainably produce high quality food and drink for our country and our exports,” ​he concluded. “This is vital for our farmers, rural communities, the wider supply chain and for our consumers.”

Related topics: People & Skills

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