Two reports have highlighted the need to maintain access to agricultural labour after Brexit.
The House of Commons’ Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report, Feeding the nation: labour constraints, was launched following claims that labour shortages could see food rotting in the fields. Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Environment Food, and Rural Affairs Committee, said, “Without sufficient labour, both from the UK and overseas, agricultural and horticultural businesses cannot function. For a long time the industry has relied on foreign workers to perform temporary and permanent roles to make good shortages in the availability of UK labour; UK agriculture could not function without foreign labour. The period since 23 June 2016 has seen increased difficulties for businesses recruiting foreign labour and has presented severe challenges for the industry.
“Government statistics do not properly measure the problem and should be reviewed so that the sector is confident that post-Brexit immigration policies are based on an accurate assessment of agriculture’s demand for, and supply of, foreign labour.”
Jack Ward, British Growers Association Chief Executive, welcomed the report: “It is refreshing to see an independent report that more accurately reflects the needs of fresh produce and other industries, and acknowledges the continuing need for overseas labour, whether on a permanent or seasonal basis.”
Just days later a key report on agriculture and Brexit from the House of Lords’ EU Committee called on the government to address “Immediate challenge,” of labour availability as the UK’s withdrawal from the EU approaches. The report added that the government is sending “mixed messages” to the agriculture industry.
Photo Caption: Neil Parrish MP
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
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