Implications of labour shortages in the dairy sector are set to have a drastic impact not only on animal welfare, but on mental health.
This was according to the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) which said last month’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) ignored the key role played by stockpeople and herd and dairy farm managers from the EU, who fall between manual and highly-skilled in their training and abilities.
RABDF policy director Tim Brigstocke said the report had failed to appreciate ’a much bigger and long-term problem in other sectors’.
A survey by the organisation saw an 11 per cent increase in issues recruiting overseas labour between 2014 and 2016, something it believed ’British workers simply do not want to take up’.
It said the ’daily harvest’ of milk demanded 24/7 attention year-round, relatively high levels of skill and an acquired knowledge of the farm and animals.
Mr Brigstocke said he was concerned the MAC could instead be banking on the fact that dairy farmers would not allow a lack of labour in the sector to result in cows ’going unmilked or unmanaged’ in the same way.
“But the more likely outcome is unbearable strain on those dairy farmers who are short of labour, leading to more farms ceasing production and possible mental health challenges for those remaining in business," he added.
“This is why this issue is a huge concern for our sector.
“Demand for milk and dairy products remains strong in the UK, so we risk undermining our own industry with its high standards and high productivity and, instead, supplying our markets from abroad with milk produced under different regimes, but using those very workers we have no access to.”