Farming’s labour shortage plea

As the huge losses suffered by companies in the food and farming sector being hit by the labour shortage continue to grow, NFU Scotland yesterday called for urgent action from the UK government to address the situation.

“I am in no doubt that without action, the current disruption will only worsen. A shortage of both permanent and seasonal workers, combined with a lack of haulage drivers and processing staff, is seriously impacting agricultural, food and drink businesses across Scotland,” said union president Martin Kennedy.

He said that the implications of the ongoing shortage for business and the economy had been steadily building and the impact could no longer be absorbed by farmers and the food and drink industry.

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“The ramifications are already in plain sight, focused on empty supermarket shelves, and the impacts are now being felt by consumers.”

In a letter to Kevin Foster MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, the union called for:

*A 12-month covid recovery visa for the food and drink supply chain to deal with immediate pressures on the industry and allow employers to expand recruitment to EU and other overseas workers.

*An urgent review by the Migration Advisory Committee on the needs of the agricultural, food and drink sectors.

*A review of the Seasonal Workers Pilot (SWP) scheme and replace it with an improved permanent scheme that works for both farm businesses and seasonal migrant workers.

*A firm commitment from the UK Government to help secure a future workforce for the long term.

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