Food supply chain members need to recognise the impact that the new National Living Wage (NLW) will have on farming says NFU Scotland, arguing that any resulting wage bill increases must to be reflected in improved farmgate returns.
Pointing out that NLW, which will apply to workers aged 25 and older, is due to begin at a rate of £7.20 per hour on April 1, the union warned that the new rate could erode already thin profit margins unless producers can recover the extra cost they face through what they sell.
NFUS chief executive, Scott Walker, said that the union fully supports the principle of a living wage for all workers in the agricultural industry and was clear in its ambition for the industry to be seen as one that offers good employment opportunities and exciting and rewarding careers.
“However, the dysfunctional supply chain, and the price pressure being heaped on all farm businesses at this time makes attracting and keeping staff a genuine challenge as the rewards for the risk involved in farming are simply not there,” he said.
“The supply chain needs to recognise that what they pay for farm produce is the biggest determinant of what a business can afford to pay its staff and any sensible sourcing commitment from retailers needs to address this issue.”