This is a House of Commons Committee report, with recommendations to government. The Government has two months to respond.
Date Published: 6 April 2022
The food and farming sector has been suffering from acute labour shortages due principally to Brexit and the covid-19 pandemic. In August 2021, the number of vacancies was estimated to be 500,000 out of 4.1 million roles in the sector. We found clear evidence that labour shortages have badly affected the food and farming industry - threatening food security, the welfare of animals and the mental health of those working in the sector. Businesses have been badly hit, with the pig sector being particularly affected. The food sector is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector but faces permanent shrinkage if a failure to address its acute labour shortages leads to wage rises, price increases, reduced competitiveness and, ultimately, food production being exported abroad and increased imports.
We found that labour shortages across the sector were causing crops to go unharvested and left to rot in fields, healthy pigs to be culled, and disruption to the food supply chain’s just-in-time delivery model. Our key recommendations are: