Rt Hon George Eustice MP, the Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will be presenting evidence to the committee from 2.30pm on Tuesday, 16 November.
This is the third evidence session in the committee’s inquiry into the subject. Previous sessions have taken evidence from representatives of farmers, food processors, retailers and economists.
The session will focus on the Government’s response to the labour shortage to date – including the additional visas it is granting for foreign poultry workers, HGV drivers and pork butchers.
The committee said that MPs may ask what more needs to be done on visa matters and the government's view on using foreign labour, including for seasonal work. The Committee may also ask the Secretary of State what government can do to attract more British workers to the sector.
In the previous session on 9th November Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability, British Retail Consortium called for a real Government policy to tackle the issues of labour shortages.
He told MPs: “While we are seeing some short-term acute problems, HGV drivers being the most obvious one for our sector, this is a long-term issue that needs a proper solution around our whole food supply chain. We are not looking at this necessarily just as a short-term labour shortage issue; we are looking at this as a medium to long-term one.”
While Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, which represents businesses in that sector said it is experiencing a “double whammy” of a labour shortage and the supply chain impact as well.
“Combined together, that means you have an impact on the ability to trade profitably and at full capacity, which is inhibiting our ability to recover, the pace of recovery and the level of jobs, growth and investment that we would be able to deliver and were anticipating delivering as we got to this stage in the reopening cycle,” she said.