Updated: Apr 16, 2020
In this time of unprecedented challenge for the people of Great Britain the grassroots farmers of our great country have been working tirelessly to keep food on our plates, having to adapt and improvise as supply chains have failed both our Farmers and the British public.
It is to our complete dismay that organisations and charities across the UK in our industry have been actively lobbying to steer government policy and advising ministers incorrectly which has led to the public, who we are here to support going without. This needs to stop and stop now.
Our farmers are dedicated to backing the Great British public doing what we do best, providing a sustainable supply of food and fresh produce to feed our nation
Throughout this pandemic we have been able to do this and have been let down by the supply chains that have put profit before our public. Meat has been flown in from Poland while our homegrown beef which is some of the best in the world suffered a price drop due to “oversupply”, our dairy farmers are pouring milk down the drain whilst tankers continue to come in from Europe. Our shelves over Easter where full of Lamb from New Zealand whilst our homegrown lamb price was slashed.
The latest failure is more serious as it is breaking all the advice we have been continually been given throughout this crisis on restricted travel from other countries. It has become clear that certain organisations and businesses in the agricultural sector have been lobbying our government to fly people from abroad to allow them to continue their business activities whilst ignoring the British workforce that is available.
TFU began consultations 6 weeks ago with community groups and farmers. We received extensive market feedback and approval which led us to work in partnership with one of the most advanced intelligence framework providers in the UK specifically designed for producing a coherent analytical output free from taint or bias and to establish and put in place a platform to connect our farms with British workers who are actively seeking employment.
Our platform has been inundated with requests by skilled and unskilled workers that want to assist our farms in harvesting their produce over the next few months. Every day we are handling hundreds of requests for work.
Our members over the past 4 days have actively been contacting the organisations to attempt to gain employment, repeatedly being told by “approved” recruitment companies that there are no positions available in multiple regions. This makes a mockery of chartering flights to bring in workers from other countries and risk more lives and prolonged lock-down measures on the people of Great Britain. DEFRA ministers have been informed of our position and shown the people that are available and willing to help. These attempts have been ignored on the advice that several major industrial scale food producers and lobbying organisations don’t believe there are enough workers capable of assisting in the UK and would rather have seasonal labour from abroad flown in.
The Agricultural sector is estimated to need 70,000 seasonal employees to continue our fight to feed our nation. We would ask anyone that’s struggling for money and needs employment to use the online platform to register. Time is off the essence as the crops won’t wait.
This is the time for us to show that we can work together to achieve a common goal. Yes, the work can be hard, yes it can be repetitive but there is honest pay for honest work for those that need it. We would ask all organisations across British Agriculture to get behind us in this common goal to show to avoid confusion and unnecessary costs and administration.
We need the people of Great Britain to support us more than ever to help us continue our unwavering support of our great British public as is the main principle of our organisation, Farmers backing Britain!