GEORGE Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, recently appeared on Question Time and pointed out that the UK labour shortage didn’t just affect HGV drivers.
He didn’t state, however, that the shortage was due to a damaging Government ideological immigration policy and was particularly affecting his remit: the farming and the food sector.
The President of the National Farmers’ Union, Minette Batters, recently said that there is a 43 per cent shortage of staff in the food processing sector and a 35 per cent shortage of seasonal workers in the farming sector.
She continued that this is such a crisis that within the next few days a cull of 150,000 pigs may be necessary.
She stressed that she had been unsuccessfully trying to arrange a meeting with Priti Patel and other Government Ministers for over two years.
Of course, this is not the only Government policy affecting his area. The mountains of red tape caused by the hard Brexit deal have devasted trade with Europe.
The Food and Drink Federation has reported that exports to Europe in the first half of 2021 have plummeted by more than a quarter compared to 2019, with cheese and beef exports particularly hit with a loss of 34 per cent and 37 per cent respectively.
The damage to the farming industry will pale into insignificance relative to the effects of the future Australian Trade Deal. This will allow in cheap meat imports which have been injected with hormones and antibiotics which are banned here, from animals reared with welfare standards not allowed here.
The NFU has said that the deal ‘will jeopardise our own farming industry and could cause the demise of many, many beef and sheep farms throughout the UK’.
How can importing food from 10,000 miles away be environmentally sustainable when it is growing on our own doorstep and in buying it, we support local farmers?
Farming is facing a precarious future under this Government. It is a Government lead by a combination of political ideology and incompetence which is set to cause lasting damage to farmers and in turn, the whole economy.
From: Doug Clark, Cononley.
THE Tories should be careful what they wish for.
Since they introduced the ‘hostile environment’ policy for undocumented immigrants in 2012, the UK has become increasingly antagonistic to all immigrants, so it is no surprise that many foreign workers have chosen to return to their homelands in recent years – even those that could have stayed following our departure from the EU.
It is incredible that the Government hasn’t planned for such an eventuality and we are now short of skilled workers in many key jobs.
The Road Haulage Association has been warning of the impending shortage of lorry drivers for two years – before the pandemic hit – but it is only very recently that the government has responded with various short term measures.
Apparently this is all part of moving towards a ‘high skill, high wage’ economy but the Government’s lack of investment in education and training – particularly vocational – belies this.
The most recent report from the Nuffield Foundation reveals that in the last 11 years there have been funding cuts across the board in education, but none more so than FE Colleges, whose budgets have fallen by 12 per cent in that time.
This is not going to achieve higher skilled workers able to take up these shortage jobs and nor can we rely on foreign workers to take up the slack even if we want them to.
The Government’s lack of a coherent strategy is coming home to roost.