British turkey farmers will do their best to ensure Christmas “is as normal as possible,” but there are likely to be shortages, an industry representative warned.
The government has assured consumers that the turkeys will be available for the holiday season.
Ministers pin their hopes on foreign workers brought in on temporary visas to “save Christmas”.
But Graeme Dear, of the British Poultry Council, told MPs that the project had come too late.
“We have been given access through the seasonal workers scheme up to 5,500 [employees] but it ends on December 31st, “he said.
“We would have liked to know in June, so we could have put in enough turkeys for a whole Christmas.”
- What is missing and why?
- Human disaster due to labor shortages for pig farms – NFU
- The shortcomings affecting countries around the world
He added that farmers “will do our best to make sure Christmas is as normal as possible,” but told MPs: “There is a likelihood that there will be a shortage.”
He said his industry was facing a 16% reduction in its workforce.
“Challenge number one”
Earlier this month, the president of the Conservative Party Oliver Dowden told Sky News: “We’ll make sure people have their turkeys for Christmas.
“I know that for Environment Secretary George Eustice, this is absolutely at the top of his list.”
Other representatives of the agricultural sector blamed Brexit and Covid shortages and urged the government to ease immigration restrictions, as demonstrated by the Committee on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Tom Bradshaw of the National Farmers’ Union said labor shortages are “our number one challenge.”
He cited daffodil farms, which he said fell by a third of their normal number of employees, leading to nearly a quarter of their crop being wasted.
And he added that no autumn courgettes, apples and raspberries were harvested, other than “the tragic slaughter in the pig sector”.
“Many companies are mothballing their facilities … I’ve never seen the industry in this position and the real lack of trust is crippling the industry,” he added.
“We are all scared”
His comments were echoed by Derek Jarman, of the British Protected Ornamentals Association, who said the flower and plant industry is facing a 25% reduction in labor next year.
“That will mean uncollected crops: the market is there but not the manpower to produce them,” he said.
“We’re all scared, we’re all terrified, we don’t know what to do, I’ve never seen him like this in my entire life, ever.”
Conservative MP Sheryll Murray asked witnesses what the main reason for the shortage was.
Jarman blamed Brexit for workers leaving the UK, telling the committee: “We as a nation have said ‘we don’t want you’.”
Charlie Dewhirst, political advisor to the National Pig Association, said the coronavirus pandemic was “an accelerator of so many problems”.
“It’s almost 50:50,” said Dear, arguing that many EU citizens left “on the eve” of Brexit, but the pandemic “encouraged” others to “go home”.
Asked whether the labor shortage could be bridged by the UK population, Bradshaw noted that unemployment is “very low”.
He said the industry had been told that ending the leave regime, introduced during the pandemic, would result in high unemployment and that “we would be recruiting from that pool.”
“Now it hasn’t happened, so where is the labor pool”, he asked,
The government said companies should pay higher wages to attract staff.
Asked about the labor shortage in agriculture earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC that the industry cannot “just go back to the tired, failed old model, reach the lever called” uncontrolled immigration “for let people in, low wages “.
In October, the government announced a series of measures to ease pressure on the pig industry, including extending the seasonal worker program to butchers.
The seasonal farm worker program allows farmers to recruit overseas based on quotas, but Bradshaw said the numbers should be expanded and extended to other areas such as the ornamental sector.
- Coronavirus pandemic
What is missing and why?
- October 15
Human disaster due to labor shortages for pig farms – NFU
- October 7
The shortcomings affecting countries around the world
- October 18
Read More about Politics News here.
This Article is Sourced from BBC News. You can check the original article here: Source