It is feared that the dairy sector could be left with a worker shortage from next year
Dairy farmers have submitted evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee after they launched a six-week call for evidence on skills shortages in the UK.
The responses will be used to support the recommendations delivered to the Home Secretary in September 2019, which did not include dairy workers on the MAC Shortage Occupation List.
A failure to include foreign dairy workers on the list following the latest consultation could leave the sector with a shortage from next year when a new immigration policy is implemented.
The points-based system will give priority to those with the ‘highest skills and greatest talents’, with dairy workers not falling into these categories.
The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) has explained that dairy workers are not classed as highly skilled and they are not listed on the MAC Shortage Occupation List.
“This failure to recognise dairy workers will leave dairy with a severe shortage with some of the largest dairy producers in the UK relying on skilled foreign labour,” the group’s managing director Matt Knight said.
“There are real concerns that post-2021 some of our largest, most technically advanced dairy farms could be lost due to their reliance on foreign labour.
“Should this happen the repercussions would be felt right across the industry, with associated businesses such as feed companies and veterinary practices also affected, let alone the impact on milk supply,” he said.
A survey by RABDF in 2016 found over half of the respondents employed staff from outside of the UK in the last five years – a 24% increase on 2014.
Almost two-thirds said this was due to insufficient UK staff being available.
More than 50% of migrant workers on dairy farms were classed as highly skilled or mainly highly skilled, something the UK government fails to recognise.