The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of food security to the United Kingdom. It has shown how important seasonal workers are to UK agriculture especially, but now exclusively, in the horticultural sector. Ensuring access to labour, both now, and in the longer term, is key to ensuring the food supply in the UK.
The Countryside Alliance believes that the issue of seasonal workers must be addressed not just in the context of food supply and COVID-19 but as a vital consideration for our food supply post COVID-19.
While welcoming the Government's ambition to use the UK's departure from the European Union as an opportunity to upskill the domestic workforce and to modernise agriculture, using the latest in mechanisation and other technologies, there will remain a need for workers to undertake tasks especially, but not exclusively, in the horticultural sector. There are also seasonal jobs on game farms, in forestry, and other businesses that are not capable of being replaced by automation and where there is no available domestic workforce willing to undertake these types of jobs in normal circumstances, as opposed to the exceptional situation resulting from COVID-19.
You can read our Briefing Note in full here.