The British food and farming industry seeks assurances that its government will still provide post-Brexit.
The industry wants to know that it will still be able to recruit adequate workers from the E.U.
The United Kingdom’s food and farming sector is looking for the government’s assurances that it will continue to be able to recruit enough people from the E.U. following Brexit in order to keep up with demands for staff.
This specific demand from the industry was a component of a broader manifesto created jointly by over 100 organisations. This manifesto was delivered to Prime Minister Theresa May. It calls for the government to publish its own white paper to outline its immigration plans “as a matter of priority.”
The Government’s Reply
A spokesperson for the government assured that those in the food and farming sector will continue to have access to E.U. citizen recruitment until the end of 2020.
The industry – and the companies that comprise it – have already expressed their concerns over Brexit’s impact when it comes to access to the E.U. as a source of agricultural labour. The sector relies on being able to hire from the E.U. to fill positions that are flexible, typically short-term, and seasonal.
Earlier this year, Environment Secretary Michael Gove spoke on the subject, saying that the industry had a “compelling” case for a post-Brexit seasonal agricultural workers scheme.
The Food Supply Chain Manifesto
National Farmers’ Union President Minette Batters sent the Food Supply Chain manifesto to the P.M. The document described the “significant number” of E.U. nationals employed by that sector. Moreover, it underscored that due to this dependency on those workers, it is critical that the U.K. government “ensures a continuing, adequate supply of permanent and seasonal labour” both ahead of Brexit and after it occurs.
The manifesto also warned that challenges in U.K. recruiting for these purposes would require the government to guarantee the sector that “in the short- to medium-term, the industry has access to the overseas labour market to help meet its recruitment needs.”
Batters said that if Brexit does not adequately support U.K. food producers, it “will be bad for the country’s landscape, the economy and, critically, our society.”