Pig sector ‘faces post-Brexit labour crisis’ unless action taken, NPA warns

Zoe Davies, National Pig Association. Picture: NPA

Zoe Davies, National Pig Association. Picture: NPA - Credit: npa

The UK pig industry will face a labour crisis post-Brexit unless steps are taken, the industry has warned.

Edward Barker, National Pig Association. Picture: NPA

Edward Barker, National Pig Association. Picture: NPA - Credit: npa

The National Pig Association (NPA) said its survey of members confirms businesses are already having problems accessing EU labour as a result of the Brexit vote.

Two-thirds of businesses employing EU labour said it had become more difficult to find EU labour since the vote, while nearly one in three have already seen workers leave, it found.

THe NPA, which submitted its response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) call for evidence to inform the Government’s post-Brexit immigration and labour policy last month, warned that the government must take steps

to ensure so-called ‘low-skilled’ permanent EU workers remain accessible to the sector.

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Just over a half of respondents employed at least one non-UK worker, with 24% hiring more than a quarter of their labour from overseas.

29% of businesses employing EU labour said at least one EU worker had left since the Brexit vote due to circumstances such as exchange rate and concern over immigration policy.

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Nearly two thirds of those employing EU labour said it had been harder to find since the vote, with none finding it easier. Nearly half of those employing EU labour said EU workers they employed were considering leaving the UK due to uncertainty over Brexit.

“The Government has made it clear it wants to restrict permanent so-called low-skilled workers after we leave the EU,” said NPA chief executive Zoe Davies.

“The NPA is making the argument in the strongest possible terms ‘lower skilled’ workers employed in the pig sector should be included on the ‘shortage occupation’ list and prioritised after we leave the EU.”

NPA senior policy adviser Ed Barker said the survey highlighted the difficulties the UK pig sector currently faces in recruiting labour from the UK, with farming often not seen as a desirable career choice.

“It is critical that, as we leave the EU, the agricultural industry works with Government and the educational sector to champion agriculture as a great place to work and to provide the right training and skills to meet the

sector’s needs.”