Stark warning on Brexit labour concerns issued by pig and poultry leaders

Pig and poultry industry leaders have joined forces to issue a Brexit labour warning to the Government, highlighting the “huge potential impact” on both sectors of restricting future access to migrant labour.

A joint letter, sent to Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill, by NPA chairman, Richard Lister, and his counterparts at the British Poultry Council and British Egg Industry Council, has stated that fears over a lack of access to EU labour, after Brexit, is already casting uncertainty over future food production.

“The employment of sufficient numbers of suitable staff is a massive and urgent challenge faced by pig and poultry producers,” the letter continued.

“From the perspective of British workers, farming is not perceived to be a desirable career, although we are endeavouring to change this through various training schemes. A lack of employees will ultimately reduce farm productivity and British food production, compromising affordability for the consumer.

“This also impacts our ability to increase exports – a government priority.”

The letter also stressed that the UK is already proving less attractive to overseas workers, due to the fall in the value of the pound.

“Government must ensure that Europeans wanting to work in the UK are not deterred from doing so,” it was stated. “Our sectors have a long success of training and up-skilling their workers, so it is also important that so-called ‘low skilled workers’, ie those not educated to degree level, are valued as much as academics and professionals.

The letter also highlighted key findings from the NPA’s recent farm labour survey, as follows:

  • One in five farms and businesses connected to the pig industry would struggle to survive without migrant labour,
  • 58% per cent of businesses employed at least one migrant worker, with 9% employing between 11 and 50 workers and 2% more than 50.

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