By Gary Ford, chief poultry advisor, NFU
There are many challenges facing the poultry sector at the moment, not least from a welfare and Brexit point of view.
However, I do want to raise another area that we need to focus on and that is human trafficking and modern-day slavery. We recently hosted a training course on this subject delivered by an excellent trainer from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA). The course was attended by several businesses and individuals across the poultry meat and egg sector.
Human trafficking is on the increase, not least driven by job opportunities in the UK. Across the country it is estimated that there are approximately 13,000 individuals being trafficked although some estimates put this at closer to 130,000. What makes people vulnerable to trafficking can be a range of reasons including lack of opportunities in their home country, poverty, debt, conflict, drink or drug dependency and mental health. The top five countries where these individuals come from are here in the UK, Albania, Vietnam, China and Nigeria respectively.
The course covered what the causes of human trafficking are, what the common signs are, and how to address it – worker interviews being a vital part of that. As well as the obvious impact on human wellbeing and the importance to our sector, which is on the front foot on this, the media is quick enough to criticise. As a responsible sector we all have a part to play in identifying labour abuse and, as part of that, we will be running two further sessions later in the year.
As a footnote, I must take this opportunity to promote Salmonella insurance. As we know Salmonella enteritidis or Salmonella typhimurium is a ‘death sentence’ if confirmed in a commercial poultry flock. If you have not got the cover I would strongly encourage all poultry farmers to have a conversation with their insurance adviser about the cover before it’s too late.