The National Farmers Union (NFU) is calling on the UK government to act on labour shortages across the farming sector.
Currently, there is an estimated shortage of 500,000 staff across the farming and food industry in the UK.
As a result, the union has sent the Prime Minister a letter renewing its demands for the administration to provide Covid-19 Recovery Visas for migrant workers to enter the country and fill the gap in the food industry workforce.
The news follows an emergency roundtable on September 21 with representatives from the national food supply chain discussing the shortages.
The letter demands a 12-month Recovery Visa to allow all sectors of the supply chain to recruit essential staff in response to the “crippling” workforce deficit.
It also requests a permanent and expanded Seasonal Worker Scheme for British horticulture and an immediate review by the Migrant Advisory Committee (MAC) on the consequences of ending free movement across the farming and food industry.
The 12 signatories encompass a diverse range of sectors including Dairy UK Limited, the Road Haulage Association, the British Meat Processors Association and the Food and Drink Federation.
The letter states: “The food and farming sector remains on a knife– edge due to the unprecedented shortages of workers across the entire supply chain.
“The situation is not improving, in fact, images of empty supermarket shelves are becoming commonplace as labour shortages bite.
“That is why the entire UK food supply chain is calling for an emergency Covid Recovery Visa to open up new recruitment opportunities as a matter of urgency.
“The supply chain will be critically damaged beyond recovery if it cannot overcome the immediate crisis.”