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From the editor: Prisoners in fields seems like latest Government con

Does the current batch of Government Ministers, on the whole, have a clue how they are perceived or that their pie in the sky plans have little or no chance of seeing fruition in the real world? 

I ask because Justice Secretary David Gauke’s plans to fill the migrant labour shortage with former prisoners seems to fit nicely in to that category.

 

Hopefully this concept will be consigned to history, right where the ridiculous GDPR regulations should have been sent, but it serves to highlight once again that we are being led in to the post-Brexit era by MPs who seem to have very little grip on reality and while their ideas may seem nice in principle, the practical implications have little merit in the day-to-day world of farming.

 

Farmers, as many others do, surely welcome moves to rehabilitate offenders. But to suggest the industry could realistically plug the looming labour gap by calling on reformed prisoners seems utterly laughable, as the NFU’s horticulture chief Ali Capper coolly points out.

 

Mr Gauke’s comments make agriculture, along with construction and catering, feel like a dumping ground in the eyes of the Government. Surely he understands the inference many would draw is that he sees agriculture as a low skilled sector able to take on those without prior knowledge of the work involved.

 

Farming and several other parts of the processing sector face systemic challenges from Brexit and what it will do to the availability of migrant workers, especially if free movement of labour under European agreements is no longer available longer term.

 

This is being heightened, as Farmers Guardian In Your Field writer Russell McKenzie points out in this week’s column, by a crop of homegrown workers who seem increasingly reluctant to get started in agriculture or do not have the correct mindset once they have secured the jobs.

 

These are issues which will only worsen and which need real world solutions, not fluffy concepts which meet the mawkish approval of Whitehall mandarins.

 

And finally, plans to form more National Parks may have come out of left field, but they must be used to stimulate rural economies, as opposed to creating working museums.


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