The NFU has urged the Low Pay Commission to avoid any 'unreasonable increases' to minimum wage rates due to the 'many challenges' farmers are presently facing.
The union has replied to the LPC's consultation on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) for 2020/2021.
While it 'strongly supported' the principle of NMW and NLW, the NFU stressed that farmers were facing the impacts caused by Covid-19 and Brexit.
A recent report by Andersons demonstrates the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on farmers' input costs.
It shows that the virus has increased seasonal labour costs by 15%, in addition to a 34% rise in labour costs over the past five years.
NFU vice president Tom Bradshaw said farmers 'needed time' for their businesses to recover from the pandemic.
"We need the LPC to reconcile the NMW and NLW with the many challenges that farm businesses are facing," he said.
“Whether it’s because of increased costs caused by coronavirus, uncertainty due to our unknown trading position outside of the EU, our future immigration policy or supply chain pressure on farm gate prices, many British farmers are working to remain viable and competitive.
"We don’t want to see an unreasonable increase to the NMW or NLW adding further pressure," Mr Bradshaw said.
What has the NFU asked for?
The NFU has asked the LPC consultation that any recommendations be approached in a manner that:
• Prioritises economic recovery from Covid-19 and the ending of the Brexit transition period.
• Makes increases to rates and changes to age thresholds incrementally, at a rate with which businesses can keep pace.
• Allows more time for businesses to negotiate a fair price within supply contracts
• Is alert to the issue of maintaining pay differentials within businesses.
• Does not jeopardise the viability of domestic agricultural and horticultural production, particularly given its recently demonstrated importance to the nation’s food security.