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Future look bleak for Spalding-area agriculture industry

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This is a letter originally published in the Lincolnshire Free Press on Tuesday.

I read with interest your ‘Word on the Ground feature’ on agriculture and the real time concerns of local farmers, some of whom are working to secure a viable future for their industry.

A current concern is the shortage of agricultural workers.

When females of child bearing age have on average 2.1 children, population stability is achieved. The current birth rate is 1.6. In 2020, 25% of conceptions ended in abortion.Fewer babies, fewer future workers.

Priti Patel’s emerging migration legislation and regulations discriminate against migrants who, sponsored or self employed, earn less than £30,000.

The inward migration of educated ,skilled workers is encouraged.

In 2019, 3.5m graduates were employed in jobs that do not require graduate qualifications.Many workers in health and social care, hospitality, transport and agriculture do not satisfy the earnings criteria.

The distinction between seasonal,economic migrants and asylum seekers has become blurred.

Britain’s population is visibly ageing. Life expectancy for men and women is respectively 79 and 81 years.

Regrettably, the morbility rate (life expectancy in good health) is not increasing at the same rate.

Research by Keele University in 2016 projects that men and women then aged 50 could on average expect further 10 or eight years in good health.

Entitlement age for the state pension is currently 66, rising in 2016 to 67.

Increasingly more older workers will be unfit for full time or part-time work before reaching retirement age.

Agricultural labour is physically demanding in an often uncongenial work environment where daily and weekly hours are determined by the weather and market imperatives.

The basic agricultural wage supplemented by overtime and productivity bonuses is not considered sufficient by many UK workers.

In 2014 the Bank of England commissioned a research project to establish which clusters of job skills were most at risk from Artificially Intelligent Robotic Automata. Agriculture and food processing were in the top three.

The shortage of agricultural labour makes the future for the micro and smaller agribusinesses looks bleak unless they can access the capital to invest in the science-led technical solutions becoming available.

Paul Walls


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