UK: Defra updates on independent review into labour shortages in the food supply chain

On August 3, Defra announced that John Shropshire will chair the Independent Review Into Labour Shortages in the Food Supply Chain. Mr Shropshire is an industry veteran, who stepped down from his role as CEO of major horticulture producer G’s Fresh Group last year.

He will be supported by an expert panel that draws in expertise from across the farming, fisheries, processing and manufacturing aspects of the supply chain.

As set out in the ​Government Food Strategy, the Government recognises the sector cannot sustainably rely on migrant labour, especially in light of global pressures elsewhere. The ​Independent Review into ​Labour ​Shortages ​in the Food Supply Chain will consider the challenges facing food and farming businesses to recruit and retain the labour they require and will provide recommendations for industry and Government to consider. The review will encompass the roles of automation, domestic employment and migration routes.

Today’s announcement builds on actions taken by the Government to support farmers through the current challenges they are facing, including bringing forward direct payments to farmers to help with cashflow which are now being paid in two instalments. Additionally, the Government has launched a review of ​supply chain fairness in​ the pig sector and has committed to responding to a review exploring how to fast track the development and adoption of automation across horticulture.

The final report and will be published in 2023 ​and the Government response will follow.

Environment Secretary, George Eustice said:
I want to thank John Shropshire for agreeing to lead this Independent Review into Labour Shortages in the Food Supply Chain.  His industry knowledge and experience make him an ideal candidate to chair the review.

Whilst labour shortages are affecting countries around the world, we have already boosted the number of visas available through the seasonal workers route to 40,000 and extended it to include poultry and ornamental horticulture, and we are working to encourage people to take up jobs in the sector.

Labour is a key issue for British farmers and farming and this report will give the government vital insight into how to address it in future.
John Shropshire, chair of the Independent Review into Labour Shortages said:
Our farming and food supply sectors are facing multiple challenges, and labour shortages are contributing to this. This review will help us understand how we can address labour shortages and boost productivity in the food supply chain.

I’ve worked in the horticulture industry for many years and, along with the panel of experts supporting the review, I hope we can make some clear recommendations that will have a long-term impact on reducing pressure on farmers and increasing food security.
The Government encourages all sectors to make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers through offering training, careers options, wage increases and to invest in increased automation technology. To help with these efforts, Defra is working with industry and the Department of Work and Pensions to raise awareness of career opportunities within the food and drink sector among UK workers.

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