Survey to put spotlight on UK dairy worker shortage

Sourcing quality labour on dairy farms still remains an issue for producers across the UK
Sourcing quality labour on dairy farms still remains an issue for producers across the UK

Dairy farmers have been urged to complete a workforce survey to help the government understand the labour crisis the industry is facing.

From January 2021, farms will struggle to employ foreign labour as new immigration rules recently classified farmworkers as not highly skilled.

As part of a government announcement made last last month, dairy workers were omitted from the MAC Shortage Occupation List.

As a result, producers now fear increasing problems when it comes to recruiting labour on UK dairy farms.

The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) last conducted a survey looking at the industry's labour issues in 2016.

It found over half of farmers had trouble recruiting staff within the previous five years, with 56% indicating they had employed foreign labour during the same period.

Now the body has created a new survey to gauge the severity of dairy's labour issue, which will form the basis from which solutions can be found.

RABDF Managing Director Matt Knight said sourcing quality labour on dairy farms still remained an issue for many dairy producers.

“Access to foreign labour will be limited from next year is an added blow, which is why we need to get an understanding of the scale of the problem and start looking for some solutions," he said.

“Already the RABDF has schemes in place to help encourage new entrants such as our Entrepreneurs in Dairying training course. We are also working with colleges, youth groups and have also produced the Education and Training Directory specifically for the dairy industry to highlight relevant courses.

“However, more needs to be done and we need to be proactive about how we encourage more people into the sector and retain them,” he said.

The short survey, which closes for responses on 20 November, consists of 28 questions and can be accessed online.

Farm owners and managers completing the survey will be entered into a prize draw to win £150 worth of Amazon Vouchers.