The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers has relaunched its migrant survey in an attempt to achieve an up to date assessment of migrant workers’ contribution to the dairy sector following concerns expressed last month by Government stating Britain was too reliant on foreign employees.
Dairy farmers employing migrants are invited to complete a short survey posted in the RABDF web site; the response deadline is 30 November.
“We want to build on our survey carried out 12 months ago, believed to be the first of its kind in the sector taking in 250 producers, and extend to 2,500 producers in order to bring further clarity to the situation and subsequently make some firm recommendations to solve the various issues surrounding migrant labour,” says RABDF policy director, Tim Brigstocke.
RABDF’s 2014 independent farmer survey concluded that migrant workers were making a significant contribution to the dairy sector with one third of producers having employed foreign labour with the majority agreeing they had been a very successful option. At the time, the Association expressed concern over their future in terms of training and sourcing, together with the on-going issues of intra-community flow of EU residents and the UK remaining within the EU.
“If the Central and Eastern Europeans went back to their native countries then dairy farming would be in dire straits as so many producers are now dependent on this migrant labour force,” says Mr Brigstocke.
Those concerns were heightened last month after Government stated British business was ‘overly reliant’ on foreign employees and were therefore partly to blame for what it described as ‘deeply disappointing’ figures. Net migration – the difference between those arriving and those emigrating – rose by 94,000 in 2014 to a record 330,000 according to the Home Office.
He adds: “Once again, we will also be sharing the findings with Government which surprisingly does not collect any such data on migrant labour, and the sector at large, in particular agricultural colleges who quite clearly have a role to play in training migrants to overcome language difficulties.”