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British adults shun dairy farm labour - sector could be threatened if EU labour cut

Questions have been raised over the future of the dairy industry after only 4 per cent of UK adults said they considered all key aspects of work on dairy farms ‘personally acceptable’.

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Industry chiefs sounded warning bells over the industry’s ‘image problem’, but said the domestic workforce could not be relied on to plug labour shortages.

 

A YouGov survey commissioned by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) highlighted that of the 2,000 people questioned, many were put off by a role when linked to the dairy industry – such as working with animals or jobs situated in rural locations – with only 9 per cent of skilled or qualified UK adults confident they would consider a job in dairy.


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“We need to take a long-term look at the image we portray but also secure access to the labour we need in the short-term.”

- Mike King

The latest Scottish Government figures suggested casual and seasonal workers made up about 10 per cent of the total agricultural workforce in 2015/16. It was not clear how many migrant workers worked in the Scottish dairy industry.

 

RABDF chairman Mike King said he was worried the ‘large number’ of roles filled by EU workers could soon disappear post-Brexit.

 

He said: “The least popular task is working with machinery. Only 17 per cent of all UK adults would consider it acceptable if they were applying for a job now.

 

Skill

“This, coupled with the tail-off in interest when people realise the role is in dairy farming, shows we need to take a long-term look at the image we portray but also secure access to the labour we need in the short-term.”

 

Mr King said dairy worker requirements had a ‘big emphasis’ on skilled or qualified permanent labour but was doubtful future restrictions would live up to labour demand.

 

It came as more than 90 per cent of dairy farmers polled in 2016 said the use of EU labour had been a successful option.

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