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LAMMA 2021

LAMMA 2021

Seasonal worker shortages felt across the globe, agricultural journalists reveal

Concerns over the availability of seasonal agricultural labour are being voiced worldwide.

A Covid-19 inspired video conference arranged by International Federation of Agricultural Journalists member Jane Craigie heard that nearly every major food production in the world relies on migrants from elsewhere to plant and harvest crops and that all are facing major disruption.

 

Spanish journalist Jesus Lopez Colmenarejo reported that the closure of borders meant that the normal flow of seasonal workers from Morocco had ceased causing worries over how intensive horticulture could carry on.

 

"That will affect our exports of course. Panic buying in the supermarkets has stopped now that everyone is at home. Before the outbreak farmers were protesting over poor prices by blocking roads with their tractors. Now they are being seen as national heroes,” said Mr Colmenarejo.

 

Eggs

 

Calling from Canada, Owen Roberts of the University of Guelph, said an initial shortage of eggs had made everyone realise agriculture was essential.

 

Kerbside collections of items as such as machinery parts was keeping farming moving but as the spring planting season approached in Ontario serious questions were being raised as to how Mexican workers would be able to reach Canada.

 

Mr Roberts said: “Apart from travel restrictions the berry industry is on fire in Mexico and there is plenty of work there. I cannot emphasise enough how important this labour issue is for Canada.”

 

The seasonal worries are different in Australia where it is early autumn with the wine harvesting season about to begin.

 

Backpackers

 

Brisbane-based Pete Lewis, formerly of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, reported a lack of the backpackers who usually flock to the farming areas at this time of year.


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“They may not have come to Australia or they may have been here and gone home. Others may decide to stay because they think it is safer than Europe or North America but with state border restrictions it is hard for them to move to where the work is," said Mr Lewis.

 

“There was panic buying here especially of minced beef and toilet rolls but in a country which can feed 75m people but only has a population of 25 m it made no sense.”

 

Dutch agricultural journalist Jacqueline Wijnberga said: “The food chain is working here despite some hiccoughs.

 

"There are estimated to be about 1m tonnes of potatoes which would have been made into french fries for the restaurant sector which remain in stock. The biggest casualties however have been the flower growers. Because flowers are not seen as essential they have had to stop picking.”

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