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UK dairy farms facing labour crisis through lack of skilled workers

Following extensive work on the potential labour shortage facing dairy farms post-Brexit, the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) has submitted an inquiry to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

RABDF managing director Matthew Knight said over 2.23 billion litres of milk is produced by the latest surveyed dairy farms – totalling 15 per cent of the UK’s overall annual volume.

“As a country we are responsible for a tenth of Europe’s total milk supply – we are concerned that with the UK’s pending exit from the EU there will be a lack of access to a workforce able to meet the specific requirements posed by dairy farms.

“The results from our recent work with Kite Consulting only continue to highlight the decline in the ability of UK dairy farms to source domestic labour. While a total of 11 per cent of these employees were non-UK nationals, almost 17% of dairy businesses have foreign workers within their workforce.”

Of the 258 farms surveyed in the south west 13 per cent of the workers were not from the UK.

John Allen of Kite Consulting said: “It is clear there is confusion between seasonal workers in certain food producing sectors compared to the skilled and permanent needs of those in dairy farming – without a rapid solution to this problem there will be a negative impact on the economic viability of the sector.”

Reliance on non-UK labour varies across the UK with the highest being in the south East.

Other consumer survey results indicate a lack of willingness among UK nationals to consider a career on dairy farms with reasons being working environment, unsocial hours, jobs involving machinery or animals and the rural location.

Wholly supported by a range of reports issued over the past decade RABDF acknowledge the need of the sector to address its underlying lack of attractiveness of the sector as a career option to the domestic workforce.


Source: Somerset’s County Gazette

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