Government launches review into pork supply chain’s fairness, and Defra announces chair of labour review

As the Government launches a review into the pork supply chain’s questionable fairness, Defra announces the chair and aims of its Independent Review into Labour Shortages in the Food Supply Chain.

With the Government Food Strategy acknowledging the agricultural sector’s unsustainable reliance on migrant labour, Defra has said that its labour shortage review will consider the challenges facing food and farming businesses, to recruit and retain labour, and will offer recommendations to both the industry and Government.

The independent review will examine the roles of automation, domestic employment and migration routes, within the following sectors: pigs, eggs, poultry, red meat, dairy, arable and edible horticulture; primary meat and seafood processing; and food and drink manufacturing. And the final report is due to be published in 2023, with a Government response to follow.

Environment secretary George Eustice said: “Labour is a key issue for British farmers and farming and this report will give the government vital insight into how to address it in future.”

The review will be chaired by John Shropshire OBE – who stepped down from his role as CEO of major horticulture producer G’s Fresh Group last year, and is also co-chair of the Modern Slavery Intelligence Network (MSIN), which aims to disrupt modern slavery and labour exploitation within the UK food industry.

Within his role, Mr Shropshire will be supported by a panel of experts who come from farming, fisheries, processing and manufacturing aspects of the food supply chain.

Mr Shropshire said: “Our farming and food supply sectors are facing multiple challenges, and labour shortages are contributing to this. This review will help us understand how we can address labour shortages and boost productivity in the food supply chain.

“I’ve worked in the horticulture industry for many years and, along with the panel of experts supporting the review, I hope we can make some clear recommendations that will have a long-term impact on reducing pressure on farmers and increasing food security.”

Additionally, while Defra conducts its labour review, the Government has announced that it will be performing its own investigations into the equity of the UK pork supply chain. Plus, it has committed to responding to a review exploring how the development and adoption of automation could be fast tracked within horticulture.

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