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Spalding area's Andrew Cross: 'Results of Pick for Britain was ultimately poor'

Living in South Holland has many attractions and one that has become increasingly apparent to me during lockdown, due to the restrictions in place, is meeting with our farming and growing members.

Whilst we have all learned to effectively communicate through Skype, Zoom and Teams, there exists no real substitute for meeting someone face to face and learning about the challenges and issues they face in their sector.

As restrictions on travel have gradually eased, it has been a pleasure to once again see the variety of activity around us and thoughts turn to the sheer amount of labour that is required to effectively get produce from the land or glasshouse through to the end consumer.

Andrew Cross (41415974)
Andrew Cross (41415974)

The more labour-intensive sectors continue to face significant challenges in being able to secure people with the right skillset and work ethic to enable efficient production.

Pressure has been evident, initially related to Brexit and further enhanced by COVID-19.

The NFU was a partner in the national “Pick for Britain” initiative which sought to encourage UK nationals affected by CV19, both through redundancy or furlough, to alleviate some of the shortfall in seasonal labour supply.

Whilst uptake was initially encouraging, the ultimate results were poor, with many of the applicants leaving within only a few days.

The NFU continues to challenge the Government on the new “points based” immigration scheme, both on the salary thresholds, what constitutes a qualifying skillset and the lack of provision for a seasonal workforce.

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