Listen to Ben Rogaly on BBC Radio 4’s show ‘Farming Today – Seasonal and migrant workers’ speaking about the ways in which the role and status of seasonal and migrant workers in the UK are changing.
With a BBC survey of British growers revealing a shortage of seasonal workers and over 70% saying they would reduce their UK operations if access to key labour markets is restricted in future, Sybil Ruscoe asks what this means for agriculture. She rounds up the picture in horticulture using expert opinion from growers, recruitment consultants and of course the workers themselves, and Ben Rogaley from the University of Sussex explains why changes to the production process makes it more difficult for UK workers to do these jobs.
But it isn’t just horticulture that relies on non-UK workers – the dairy industry also employs many of its skilled workers from across the EU. From Mike King’s dairy farm in South Gloucestershire Sybil meets Diana and Mirek, both of whom have forged successful careers and lives in Britain. Diana is from Latvia and is a trained nurse but has taken to farming and now enjoys her work as a relief milker. Mirek is from a farming family in Poland and says that Brexit hasn’t affected how he feels about working in the UK. Mike explains that a recent survey from the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, the organisation he Chairs, reveals that the dairy industry is failing to attract sufficient numbers of UK workers which is why he’s had to look further afield to fill the gaps.
Producer: Toby Field.