Fears that the UK turkey industry could face another workforce shortfall have been allayed by the UK government’s decision to provide 2,000 visas for seasonal workers.
In 2021, producers and processors faced a dire situation due to the lack of migratory labour because of Brexit until the government stepped in to provide a temporary visa scheme for 5,500 poultry workers in the run-up to Christmas.
The announcement, made as part of the government’s National Food Strategy, means that poultry will now always be part of the Seasonal Worker Visa scheme and that numbers required would be based on need.
The strategy said: “Seasonal poultry workers perform a key role in ensuring that poultry produced in this country gets onto our supermarket shelves, especially in the run-up to Christmas.”
The strategy also announced a review into the labour challenges plaguing the food and farming sector with a view to enhancing supply chain robustness at peak periods.
The British Poultry Council welcomed the move saying expanding the seasonal worker scheme was a good example of prioritising resilience to ensure food for all.
“The Food Strategy has been a long time coming. There is lots of work to do, and we will be watching closely, but following this step forward we all have to push ahead.”
“…the importance of adopting realistic policies…”
Richard Griffiths, British Poultry Council chief executive, said this was a substantial victory for the poultry sector: “Poultry makes up half of the meat the nation eats. Labour shortages, driven by the effects of Brexit and compounded by factors like the pandemic, have demonstrated the importance of adopting realistic policies that enable British businesses to drive productivity, create good jobs and keep food moving to strengthen food security in a thriving country post-Brexit.