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The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is calling on people to take up jobs on farms to save this year’s harvest.

Travel restrictions and illness could leave a shortage of tens of thousands of agricultural workers. The UK Government should help by encouraging those who have lost their jobs to work on farms, to keep viable businesses afloat.

Government and industry figures show that over 60,000 seasonal labourers come to the UK each year to help complete annual harvests. Yet travel restrictions are expected to make it almost impossible for farmers to access the labour they need.

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The CLA is estimating that 75% of these workers will be unable to enter the UK due to coronavirus-related restrictions on the freedom of movement.

Time is of the essence: vegetable growers are already beginning to crop, lambing season has reached its peak and soft fruit – which must be picked within a three-day period – is due to begin in April.

Island Echo is told that in Whitwell a field full of cauliflower has been left for animals to feed on – a waste of thousands of vegetables that could have otherwise been consumed by the nation.

Demand for labour comes at a time when thousands of people find themselves suddenly out of employment. The CLA are urging people to seriously consider taking up an important role in Britain’s agriculture and food processing sectors, which offer decent rates of pay and more varied roles than people think.

Mark Bridgeman, President of the CLA, said:

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“We all know this is a deeply concerning period and we are all determined to do all we can to help the country through it.

“In order to do so, we must recognise that farmers supply of labour is in jeopardy. A shortage of 80,000 workers is something we have never seen before. This is why we are calling for a ‘Land Army’ of employees to support farmers in feeding the country.

“We need urgent Government assistance to help source workers and advertise positions. Time is of the essence as many farmers will soon begin, or have already, begun planting or harvesting.

“Farms and rural businesses are already suffering from the winter flooding and uncertainty over future international trading relationships. If we fail to find these key workers, businesses will go bust.”

CLA South East represents farmers, landowners and rural businesses across Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.


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“Travel restrictions”?? Best tell the people on the island, seen no end of people getting of the bus with shopping from clothes shops and presents / flowers for mothers day. All ready to go and infect the rest of their family. Will be no one to feed the way these lot a going. The figures speak for themselves.


Hello welcome to the real world. The field in question at Whitwell never made the grade the supermarket want . So that’s why it wasn’t cut. Farm in question had labour all winter. Speaking of labour IF the lazy people in England didn’t get so much benefits they could of worked on farms here years ago. That’s why we’ve had to get Eastern Europeans etc here to do the work the English wouldn’t!!!!! Don’t thing a lot of the general public realise just how much power supermarkets have over the farmers. They specify quality /shape/ colour etc of our crops… Read more »


Spot on George. I was just having the same conversation with my wife about the over paid people on benefits who haven’t contributed in years. Yes people need help to get back into employment but I know people who haven’t worked in many years. They are Perfect for filling the gaps in labour after leaving the EU. The answer to labour shortages has been there all along. Very sad to see foods wasted at a time like this because of size, shape, appearance etc.


And maybe those people who have been temporarily laid off, but still receiving a subsidy from the government, knowing that in a few months they will get their proper jobs back. I am struggling self-employed freelancer, and trying to keep my small business afloat at the moment, with no security yet offered by the government. So, I can’t actually believe how many “I am bored” and “i need to find a new daily routine” comments have been posted by professional London workers, who have been laid off but are still getting up to £2,500 a month from the government!

Colin shaw

Can’t agree more George. I’ve literally just watched ‘Hugh’s waste on war’ TV program, if consumers buy the fruit and veg without caring about ‘how pretty’ it looks, there’d be so much less food wasted. here’s the description of the show, just for your info. DescriptionCelebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall explores why there is an enormous amount of food wasted in the UK. With more than 13 million people struggling to afford their weekly shop, it seems outrageous that the average household disposes of £700 worth of food a year, and one-third of the food produced in the UK gets binned.

Janesville Read

This has been going on for years, sheep feeding on crop’s or plough back in to ground


Well said


Do farms actually advertise in the Job Centre anymore? I wonder what the situation will be if you are receiving 80% of your wages through government support but not actually able to fulfill your job duties…..will you be able to take employment in the fields and get paid by the farmer? I expect you will be deemed to have made yourself redundant and lose the government help so it will be a gamble to take work in the fields.


Really don’t mean to sound so negative but I know first hand of an advert in local Island paper app 10 years ago for seasonal farm workers fo over winter harvest of brassica crops and COULDN’T get people to do the work. Some wondered if would get paid if it rained. Hello. Yes you will because no matter what the weather’s doing you will be out in it !!! Apparently the softies won’t work in the rain and very muddy fields. That’s why people HAD to go to foreign labour as they will work their butts of to earn money.… Read more »


Or is it because European labour is cheap? There was a report in the news last year about places refusing to higher nationals simply because they cost more to pay than european labour. I haven’t needed the benefit system for donkeys years, but from what I gather from people I know who have needed it, it’s not so free and easy as it used to be. And the more exclamation marks you put the more absurd your point looks.


A link so people could apply would really help.

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