Poultry worker visa welcomed as ‘first step’ in alleviating worker shortages

The British Poultry Council has welcomed the Government’s decision to add poultry meat workers to the existing seasonal workers scheme. The poultry industry has faced serious pressure as a result of ongoing labour shortages.

The BPC said the challenges associated with Brexit, the pandemic and the recent carbon dioxide shortage had demonstrated the importance of treating food as a matter of national security.

Government’s decision will provide some much-needed short-term relief to tight supply chains and we hope that it is not too little, too late, said Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the British Poultry Council. “Limits to non-UK labour supply have jeopardised food businesses and made access to quality British food harder for people in this country.

“Ensuring the strength and resilience of our supply chains is our top priority to keep food moving, and we thank Government for this intervention. This is a positive step in the right direction to begin alleviating the pressure supply chains have faced over the last eighteen months. Nevertheless, there is a risk that this intervention comes too late.

“Supply chains are not something that can be simply switched on and off, so plans for production are already well underway and the necessary cutbacks due to ongoing labour shortages have already been made. Key workers in food, regardless of where they come from, are an important part of Britain’s cultural fabric and prestige. British food producers keep this country running and must have access to the skills and talent that this country sorely needs to ensure food for all.

“As a sector, we continue to invest in our facilities, automation, and UK workforce to create a modern, fit for the future food supply chain that puts safe, wholesome, and affordable food on every table. We look forward to working with Government and invite them to take another look at their immigration and trade policies – which risk crippling British food security – to ensure longer term solutions to the issues.”

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