NFU president 'optimistic' British people will work on farms

Minette Batters, NFU president, said there is still time for British people to sign up and help farmers and growers
Minette Batters, NFU president, said there is still time for British people to sign up and help farmers and growers

NFU President Minette Batters has said there are 'optimistic' signs that British people will help pick fruit and vegetables during the Covid-19 crisis.

Amid the restrictions on day-to-day lives, farming groups have warned that a lack of labour could affect the supply of fruit and veg.

Last year's figures show that 98 percent of harvest staff were from outside the United Kingdom.

Because of this, there could be a shortage of 80,000 farm workers due to the coronavirus's impact on travel and work, according to recent estimates.



But Minette Batters said farmers and growers are now seeing 'really positive news' and 'a lot of signs are optimistic'.

“We are hearing people are very keen [to work on farms]. There does seem to be a real swell of support from people to do this,” she told The Guardian.



Those who had been furloughed were allowed to increase their income through agricultural work, Mrs Batters said, and workers who had lost their jobs would see it as a lifeline and a way to help the UK through Covid-19.

This comes as farm workers from Eastern Europe were flown to the UK this week to plug the labour shortfall on British farms.

The first flight landed on Thursday 16 April in London Stansted, carrying 150 Romanian crop pickers.

Germany has also been using charter flights to bring in farm labour from eastern Europe.

But the NFU President said there is still time for British people to sign up to help the upcoming harvest: "We will know much more when we get to May," she said.

How do I apply to work on a farm?

Farm labour groups Concordia, HOPS and Fruitfall are calling for workers to apply for paid positions on local farms across the UK.



They work as part of the UK’s Alliance of Ethical Labour Providers, and operate to ensure the best in participant experience and ethics.

They have partnered together to help find motivated individuals to help farmers as part of their 'Feed the Nation' campaign.

At present, roles will be starting on UK farms from early May onwards – harvesting crops on placements from 6 weeks to 6 months, all over the UK.

Workers will be at least paid minimum wage and many farms pay National Living Wage or more, depending on how much fruit and/or vegetables they harvest, and the role they do on the farm.

All roles offered through Concordia, HOPS and Fruitful come with training, which can last up to three weeks to give them the best chance of maximising their income whilst on a farm placement.