The British poultry meat industry relies hugely on the contributions and efforts of migrant workers who have a vital role in feeding the nation with safe, wholesome and nutritious food. 60% of our workforce are EU nationals and the sector cannot feed the nation without access to migrant workers at all skill levels.
No one who has seen our workers in action in our processing plants or on our farms can think for one second that these people are anything other than highly skilled. While we have been investing heavily on attracting UK labour, training our workforce through the new apprenticeship levy and trailblazer programmes - it would take us several years to rebalance towards UK labour.
British Poultry Council Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said:
“The British poultry meat sector is calling for a flexible visa system that allows migrant workers to come to the UK for specific roles on a semi-permanent basis. This is the least our Government can do to support an industry that takes nothing in Government subsidies and yet offers over £1 billion in tax contribution to the Exchequer.
We are capable of scaling up production to meet the growing demand and stand committed to feeding the nation with safe, wholesome and nutritious food. Any secure post-Brexit deal must be about Britain’s future food security and sustainability and for this to happen, we are asking our Government to commit to offering us sufficient numbers of workers, both seasonally and permanently. We need clarity on the new rules for EU nationals living and working in the UK well before free movement ends in March 2019.”