Agricultural labour supplier Concordia has warned that due to the implications of Brexit, workers from Eastern Europe are choosing to work elsewhere than the UK, putting pressure on the availability of harvest workers for the coming season.
Factors such as the weak pound and high travelling costs to the UK mean that the company, which normally supplies up to 10,000 foreign workers for some 200 farms a year could be 10 per cent worse this year. Concordia chief executive Stephanie Maurel warned the Eastern Daily Press that overall the national picture this year is likely to be “a lot, lot worse.”
Calling for urgent action from the Government to allow the recruitment of workers from countries outside the EU, such as Ukraine, she added, “The money itself is reasonable, and that doesn’t come out as a complaint when we do our surveys and focus groups. What does is that the strength of the pound means that when they convert back into euro and to local currency they’re usually better off going to Germany or Scandinavia, because Brexit has actually had an impact on the comparison rates, which is one thing.”
While may UK growers and farmers have good reputations as employers, she pointed out: “That only goes so far if you can earn more in Germany because the strength of the pound has changed.”
Ali Capper, chair of the National Farmers’ Union horticulture and potatoes board, told the newspaper that, anecdotally growers currently “have just about enough labour”, but that the industry is “very concerned” about the summer months.
Photo Caption: Concordia chief executive Stephanie Maurel
The post NFU and Concordia issue labour warning appeared first on Hort News on 7 June 2018.
The NFU has warned farmers and growers to check online apps for ‘fake footpaths’ after a network of unofficial paths was discovered covering farmland near Peterborough.
Zoe Mee of Lyveden Farm in Northamptonshire was shocked when a farm worker showed her a map on a social media app that depicted new routes for walkers alongside the farm’s existing rights of way. After contacting mapping app producers, she believes walkers may have added their own routes for people to use, without distinguishing them from the legally-established footpaths.
“I can’t believe that people can just add routes across your land like this,” she said. “We have people who shoot pigeons and rabbits on the farm to protect crops and they are given maps of all the official footpaths and bridleways to ensure they keep clear of the public. If online maps are directing people away from the official routes it is putting them at risk.”
NFU Access Adviser Martin Rogers said the NFU was talking to a number of organisations that produce maps on mobile apps, to raise awareness of the importance of accurately portraying the right of way network.
“Checking online apps, and getting in contact with their owners, are important steps when you believe there are errors on their system,” he said. “If you do discover that routes have erroneously been added to mobile apps, it is important to make it clear that you do not intend to dedicate these routes as legal rights of way.”
Photo Credit: NFU
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The National Farmers’ Union has written to The Times to dispute the impression given by campaign group Migration Watch UK in an article that there is no labour crisis on UK farms.
Under the front page headline: ‘Record number of EU workers in Britain despite Brexit vote’ on 16 November, the newspaper referred to an Office for National Statistics (ONS) report showing that the number of EU citizens working in the UK is now at a record high of 2.37 million, despite last year’s referendum result.
Alp Mehmet, vice-chairman of Migration Watch UK, said the figures “show that predictions of a ‘Brexodus’ are nonsense,” adding that they threw into doubt claims that food is being left to rot in the fields due to lack of EU migrant labour.
In her letter, NFU Deputy President Minette Batters wrote: ‘The ONS data on EU citizens that your article refers to on the front page… doesn’t account for seasonal workers that come to the UK for less than 12 months – these make up the majority of the workforce. This is where fruit, veg and flowers growers in particular are already experiencing real difficulty. Our latest survey of recruiters in this area shows a worker shortage of 29% in September, raising the average shortfall for the year to 11%.
‘The British farming sector needs commitments from Government that, where needed, there will be sufficient numbers of permanent and seasonal workers from outside the UK in the run up to the UK leaving the EU and beyond.’
Photo Caption: Alp Mehmet, vice-chairman of Migration Watch UK
Photo Credit: YouTube
The post NFU responds to EU labour claims appeared first on Hort News on 22 November 2017.
NFU vice-president Guy Smith clashed with WWF-UK’s food policy manager Duncan Williamson at last week’s Nuffield Conference.
In a panel debate, Mr Smith commented, “We pick up some bad habits from the green NGOs who have something to sell when it comes to spreading bad news. I’ve got no issue with this but the WWF like to point to the things we haven’t got on our farms in terms of wildlife and frequently ignore what we have got. That sometimes irritates me.”
In response, Mr Williamson stressed that 60 per cent of biodiversity loss worldwide can be linked to agriculture and food systems and disagreed that it did not recognise good environmental actions by farmers. “We celebrate the good farmers, we work with farmers all over the world,” he said. “We work with farmers in East Anglia and with farmers along the River Itchen who are doing fantastic work to get the chalk streams back up to a really good level.”
Photo Credit: NFU
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Fruit grower and chairman of the NFU horticulture board has warned that the cold weather in April could lead to a shortage of British top fruit later this year. She told The Guardian that her own apple harvest could drop by 70-80% as a result of frost damage.
“There’s damage to both top and stone fruit, which includes apples, pears, plums and cherries,” she said. “But it’s difficult to know what this means until we see the fruit sets, which is the point when it becomes clear how much fruit has stayed on the trees. However, I think there is enough evidence there will be less English fruit this year.”
English wine makers have already said that the frosts have wiped out up to 50 per cent of the national grape harvest. ““We will need our retailers and customers to be less fussy this year if they want beautiful-tasting English apples,” added Ms Capper.
Photo Credit: Alison Capper, Twitter
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NFU Deputy President Minette Batters has become the latest ambassador for the Love British Food campaign.
Ms Batters runs a successful Wiltshire based farming operation which specialises in selling premium store cattle. She is no stranger to driving campaign initiatives having co-founded Ladies in Beef and Great British Beef Week. Her new role supporting Love British Food has been welcomed by campaign founder Alexia Robinson, who said, “We are delighted that Minette Batters has agreed to be an ambassador for us. She is a strong and vociferous campaigner for British agriculture and it’s a great honour to be working alongside her. Minette is hugely knowledgeable and an inspiration to so many in agriculture and in the wider food and drink industry.”
The ongoing Love British Food campaign culminates in British Food Fortnight which this year runs from 23 Sept – 8 Oct 2017 and is the biggest annual national celebration of food and drink produced in the country. The Co-op is once again the official retail partner and the campaign is supported by a committee of high profile organisations such as the WI, Federation of Young Farmers, Campaign to Protect Rural England and a host of catering organisations.
Minette Batters will be joining a growing list of key Love British Food supporters including legendary chef Raymond Blanc and his son Olivier Blanc; well-being writer and organic farmer, Liz Earle; and farmer and former chairman of the National Fed of Young Farmers Clubs, Milly Fyfe.
Photo Credit: Love British Food
The post Minette Batters joins Love British Food campaign appeared first on Hort News on 11 May 2017.
Following a full review between last December and February, the British Protected Ornamentals Association (BPOA) has unveiled its plans for the next ten years.
Greg Hill, chairman of the BPOA, said, “With many changes occurring in the industry and the needs of our members changing, we thought it was a good time for a long look at the operation of our association and we are delighted with John’s study and the opportunity that it has given us to update our operations and make them fit for the future of the industry.”
The BPOA Management Committee has since analysed the findings of the review and it presents John Hall’s report to the membership. It is working to address the questions raised in the report and consider the recommendations for action by developing an Action Plan for implementation beginning immediately in 2017. The Action Plan will be presented to BPOA members at an extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday 17th October.
The BPOA Review, which was produced by consultant John Hall, can be read here.
Photo Credit: BPOA / NFU
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The British Retail Consortium (BRC), the National Farmers Union of England and Wales (NFU) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), has issued a joint statement to Government officials highlighting its core objectives and priorities for UK trade policy ahead of Prime Minister Theresa May triggering Article 50 to leave the European Union on 29 March.
In the statement, the signatories said, ‘The UK’s food supply chain – farmers, food and drink manufacturers and retailers – keeps the nation fed, ensuring consumers have access to a wide range of nutritional, quality foods at affordable prices. As the process of leaving the EU develops, the food supply chain will work together to ensure that our consumers continue to enjoy great quality, choice and value.
‘The UK food supply chain employs 3.9m people from farming through manufacturing to retail and food service and generates £108bn in value.’
Amongst their demands, was a call to ensure ‘a smooth and orderly Brexit by agreeing transitional arrangements that maintain frictionless trade in goods between the UK and the EU, avoiding costly and disruptive customs checks, processes and procedures.’ They also said there the UK should secure its fair share of any tariff rate quotas for agricultural imports and any preferential access for UK food and drink exports.
Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures.
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According to a report in The Telegraph, MP and Agriculture Minister George Eustice is supporting an initiative which could see a ‘Buy British’ button added to online grocery shopping sites.
Mr Eustice told MPs on Tuesday (14th March) that he was in talks with the National Farmers Union about such a system. Other MPs, like York’s Julian Sturdy, are also believed to be supportive of the idea.
NFU president Meurig Raymond told The Telegraph: “From the independent surveys that the NFU has carried out over the years, we know that 86 per cent of shoppers want to buy more British food, so we would welcome any move which would enable them to back British farming.”
However, as yet it is unclear if any supermarkets or other internet retailers are on board with the plans.
Photo Caption: The new button would allow shoppers to filter produce by country of origin
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A new survey by the NFU has revealed an increase in farmer confidence in the dairy and livestock sectors over the last year, but confidence has fallen in the horticulture and poultry sectors. The NFU says there are serious concerns about labour shortages in the future and increase of the National Living Wage.
Members told the NFU, as part of its seventh annual farmer confidence survey, they anticipated positive effects on their business from the consumption levels of British produce (58%) and output prices (46%). However, farmers feel that input prices will have the most widespread negative impact for the coming year (74% negative), followed by regulation and legislation (53% negative).
Mr Raymond commented: “The NFU has made it clear that for farming to have a profitable and productive future we need reassurance on key issues resulting from Brexit; such as access to a competent and reliable workforce and the best possible access to the Single Market.
“British farming is the bedrock of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector – food and drink. The sector is worth £108 billion to the nation’s economy and employs some 3.9 million people. We urge Government, retailers and the public to back British farming so we can continue to produce high quality produce for the nation.”
The post Farmer confidence higher for next year appeared first on Hort News on 21 December 2016.