NPA chief executive, Dr Zoe Davies, majored on the pig industry’s need to retain access to permanent, unskilled labour in post-Brexit Britain, when she gave evidence to MPs in parliament yesterday.
Addressing the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee, Dr Davies (pictured above) shared an hour-long evidence session with Chris Chinn, from horticulture business Cobrey Farms and David Brown, from the Horticultural Trades Association. While their focus was on seasonal labour issues, however, she made the point that the pig industry is facing a different post-Brexit situation.
“We require permanent, unskilled labour as opposed to seasonal,” she said, stressing that unskilled did not mean ‘without skill’ but rather not educated to degree level.
“That is an important distinction to make as we are completely reliant on that (form of labour).”
Asked by EFRA chair, Neil Parish, why such labour needs weren’t being met by workers originating from the UK, Dr Davies said: “The UK workforce finds it easier to find jobs elsewhere, rather than working in agriculture and, of course, the Eastern Europeans have filled that void for us.
“Eastern Europeans will live here and bring families here. The concern they have is that they don’t know whether they are going to be able to stay, in addition to the fact that a lot of them have lost 20-30% as a result of the currency issue. They want to know if they are still welcome.”