Tag: Farming Industry

UK farmers call for EU workers to bypass Covid quarantine

An article in The Guardian newspaper has reported that there is likely to be a Christmas turkey shortage if EU workers not allowed in to work in British Poultry farms.

Poultry farmers are urging the government to lift travel restrictions to allow hundreds of specialist EU turkey pluckers to fill jobs in the UK, with a warning that there could be a shortage of birds or higher prices if the restrictions are not waived.

The proposed exemption would cover at least 1,000 seasonal workers who normally travel from Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia at the end of October to help slaughter, pluck and prepare birds destined for UK Christmas dinner tables. It says workers with typical two-month contracts will not come if they have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, even if they are provided with Covid-secure accommodation and “work bubbles”.

With lockdown forcing smaller festive gatherings, farmers are finding it difficult to predict consumer demand, and there are fears that larger birds will be out of favour. 

Chicks – or poults – typically ordered in February grace the Christmas dinner table as fully grown birds the following year. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), between January and June 2020 there were 6.2m poults being reared on farms, compared with 6.1m in the same period in 2019.

Intensive meat processing plants have already fallen victim to outbreaks of Covid-19. A thousand staff at Bernard Matthews’ facility in Holton, Suffolk, have been tested after 72 colleagues were found to be Covid-19 positive.

‘Whole new business’

Farmers innovate to get food from field to plate during the coronavirus pandemic. A report from Reuters has explained the struggles that farmers currently face.

New recruits for seasonal work

Finding seasonal workers is a priority in Europe, where spring harvests are at risk because the usual vast armies of migrant labourers cannot leave home as all of the boarders are currently closed.

Spain, the European Union’s biggest fruit and vegetable exporter, has responded by allowing the unemployed to take farm jobs while keeping welfare payments, and has extended work permits for those migrants already in the country.

France has mobilised 15,000 French workers idled by the crisis so far to help offset a potential shortfall of 200,000 foreign labourers this spring. 

It has been suggested that farmers were frustrated that the new recruits lacked skills or had quickly quit. 

Poland, meanwhile, is struggling without Ukrainian seasonal labourers and the Russian Agriculture Ministry said prisoners might help out on farms in the absence of Central Asian workers. 

Germany, Britain and Ireland are allowing companies to bring in trained workers from Romania and other European Union states on charter flights with quarantine measures. 

U.S. President Donald Trump has exempted such migrants from a temporary curb on immigration during the crisis. 

Elsewhere, Nigeria’s federal government is making identity cards so farm workers can move freely during a national lockdown after many were stopped by police. 

Iraq’s Agriculture Ministry said farm workers were exempted from curfew measures and farmers were allowed to move harvesting machinery around the country. 

To keep transport links running smoothly, Brazilian toll-road operator CCR SA has distributed more than 1,000 food and hygiene kits a day to truck drivers as service outlets are closed. 

In Kenya, Rubi Ranch has been sending avocados to Europe by ship due to limited air freight capacity, as airlines have grounded aircraft and cut off the company’s usual supply route.