Agriculture: Vacancies

(asked on 7th February 2024) - View Source

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask His Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the level of labour shortages in the farming sector; what measures they are taking to manage such shortages; and what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of such measures.

Answered by
Lord Douglas-Miller
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
This question was answered on 14th February 2024

Defra is working closely with our food and farming sectors and across Government, to understand labour demand and supply, and help our world-leading growers, farmers and food producers access the labour they need, including both permanent and seasonal workforce requirements.

To reduce the risk of seasonal labour shortages in horticulture and the poultry sector, the Government announced last May that there would be 45,000 Seasonal Worker visas for the horticulture sector in 2024, with a further 2000 for seasonal poultry workers, ensuring these sectors can plan their workforce needs for the year ahead with confidence. This provides sufficient visas for growers to access all the workers they need, and if more visas are necessary within the year an additional 10,000 could be released. Reports on the Seasonal Worker visa route are available at GOV.UK.

To help support the issue of labour shortages and inform future decisions on labour across the sector, the Government commissioned John Shropshire to carry out an Independent Review into Labour Shortages in the Food Supply Chain throughout 2022 and 2023. John Shropshire’s Review considered how automation, domestic labour and migrant labour could contribute to tackling labour shortages in our sectors, including farming. This report was published on 30 June 2023 and the Government response – which will also be informed by the Review of Automation in Horticulture – is expected to be published in early 2024.

The Government response will consider all ten of the recommendations made in John Shropshire’s Review, covering the four themes of Recruitment & Retention, Skills, Data and Automation.

At the same time as the response, the Government will set out how it will support the sector to access the labour it needs alongside actions to reduce the sector’s reliance on migrant labour including via our work on automation and promoting domestic labour procurement and training.

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