Agriculture failed to make MAC’s recommendation for the Shortage Occupation List despite a recommendation to restore vets on the list to make it easier to recruit in the profession.
The NFU has hit out at the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) ‘poorly managed’ recommendation to exclude agriculture from its list of jobs that need to be filled by non-UK workers post-Brexit.
Agriculture failed to make the recommendation for the Shortage Occupation List, published on Wednesday (May 29), despite a recommendation to restore vets on the list to help address concerns about capacity meeting future demand and to make it easier to recruit in the profession.
The NFU said it was vocal during the consultation stage, suggesting a range of ‘critical jobs’ that were often filled by non-UK workers at all skill levels.
They included dairy herdsmen and poultry technicians.
NFU president Minette Batters said the MAC had not only failed to recognise the needs of the industry, but also the implications for shoppers ‘wanting to buy affordable high quality British food’.
She said: “The consultation was poorly managed, with events arranged at just 48 hours’ notice.
“These events were supposed to gather evidence on those occupations in shortage across all skill levels, highlighting the need for experience, aptitude and knowledge.
“In a post-Brexit world, access to overseas workers may be restricted. If we cannot get some of these permanent roles on the shortage occupation list, we will be limited purely to UK-based workers to fill those jobs when we know, with the country at near full employment, the numbers are just not there.”
Mrs Batters said there were still options available through the new immigration policy the Home Office was designing, and that the NFU would continue to campaign to raise awareness of these issues with MPs.
She added: “We urge government to look carefully at these recommendations and add the roles we desperately need so the critical jobs that many non-UK workers perform on our farms at all skill levels are accounted for.”
The National Sheep Association (NSA) said recognition also needed to extend beyond vets and ‘into other essential parts of the livestock farming sector’.
Chief executive Phil Stocker said: “There are many jobs in UK agriculture, with tough working hours and conditions. The UK domestic workforce is failing to fill them and this is not due to migrant labour undercutting wage rates.
“These migrant workers are vital for our continued work force, they contribute positively to our economy and do essential work that cannot be filled domestically.
“We urge the Government to reconsider its proposals to recognise that.”