The NFU has responded to Defra’s launch of an independent review into labour shortages within the food supply chain, highlighting the importance of immediate action to alleviate workforce pressures.
“We have long highlighted the impacts of workforce pressures across the food and farming sector so this review is much needed,” said NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw. “We hope it will act as a catalyst for government to take action to ensure the food supply chain has the workforce it needs to continue producing, picking, packing and processing high quality, affordable and sustainable food for the nation.
“While there must be a focus on long term workforce requirements and business resilience in the future, including things like boosting domestic recruitment and automation, farmers and growers are seriously concerned about how they will get the workforce they need right now. This review cannot overlook the immediate and pressing issues the food supply chain is facing as we speak.
“With this review taking place imminently, it’s important that the government no longer delays commissioning the Migration Advisory Committee’s review of the Shortage Occupation List. This will look at jobs where there is a shortage of suitable workers in the UK and where it is sensible to fill those shortages with migrant workers, so will play a big role in determining job shortages across the food supply chain.”
Defra has this week announced John Shropshire will chair the Independent Review Into Labour Shortages in the Food Supply Chain. John Shropshire is an industry veteran, who stepped down from his role as chief executive of major horticulture producer G’s Fresh Group last year.
He will be supported by an expert panel that draws in expertise from across the farming, fisheries, processing and manufacturing aspects of the supply chain.
The Independent Review into Labour Shortages in the Food Supply Chain will consider the challenges facing food and farming businesses to recruit and retain the labour they require and will provide recommendations for industry and Government to consider. The review will encompass the roles of automation, domestic employment and migration routes.
The final report and will be published in 2023 and the Government response will follow.