How to plug the migrant labour gap in farming

 – a new matchmaking service – a Land Army – a network for small-scale growers –

How the UK can increase the production of domestic fruit and veg that have been grown in an environmentally sensitive way to ensure healthy and nutritious food for all citizens.

.

There are some very good ideas out there looking at how we are going to manage our food production and distribution:

The future of the farming and food industries

.

But we need the people to pick the fruit and veg:

Brexit hit farms hard. Coronavirus may leave food rotting in the fields | wired.co.uk

Coronavirus triggers acute farm labour shortages in Europe | ihsmarkit.com

.

The Sustainable Food Trust asks some awkward questions about how we are going to produce our food post-Covid:

.

Coronavirus hit the UK at the exact moment that the hungry gap arrived, when the winter crops have ended but before the new season’s plantings are ready to harvest. As growers across the UK begin to think about the coming months, there is a concern that the seasonal labour on which they rely will not be available. During peak harvest season, growers in the UK employ around 75,000 labourers, with an estimated 98% recruited from the EU and the majority employed in fruit and vegetable production. Most migrant labourers in horticulture come from Poland, Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria. However, the majority of these workers are now unable to travel from their home nations due to the ongoing border restrictions. Even if they could come, many are (understandably) scared to leave their families and come to the UK when the pandemic is still raging.

Due to the urgency of the situation, the SFT is working to support the impressive efforts that are going on around the UK.

  • We are continuing to work with the Fruit & Vegetable Alliance to support the horticultural industry’s attempts to plug the migrant labour gap through a new matchmaking service.
  • We urge you to sign onto the Land Workers’ Alliance new petition that calls on Government to build a Land Army to protect the UK’s food supply by offering business support for small farms and market gardeners and encouraging new entrants.
  • For those of you with businesses, Organic Growers Association has created an online doc to connect small-scale agroecological growers and provide the support that they need, which might be helpful.

However, once this emergency has passed, it will be important to consider the lessons we can learn for the future. At the SFT, we hope we can convene a national conversation about how the UK can increase the production of domestic fruit and veg that have been grown in an environmentally sensitive way to ensure healthy and nutritious food for all citizens. The first steps of this work are already being taken and you can read director Patrick Holden’s blog on our plans here.

A labourious crisis | sustainablefoodtrust.org

   
© Vision Group for Sidmouth 2005-2020