The RABDF migrant survey

Do you employ migrant labour? If the answer is yes, then please take out five minutes to complete our survey using the link below:

Twelve months ago, RABDF carried out a similar independent farmer survey which concluded that migrant workers were making a significant contribution to the dairy sector with one third of producers having employed foreign labour – see main findings below. 

RABDF 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,” said RABDF policy director, Tim 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 last year to a record 330,000 according to the Home Office. 

“We want to build on our 2014 survey, 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,” said Mr Brigstocke.

“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.”

RABDF migrant survey 2014 summary

250 producer respondents of which 52% had more 200 cows

  • 40% of respondents had encountered staff recruitment issues in the last five years, the reasons commonly given amounted to difficulty in finding quality, skilled workers 
  • 32% of respondents employed labour from outside the UK and the vast majority - 93% agreed it had been a very successful option 
  • 57% of migrant employees came from Poland, with a significant number from the Baltic States, particularly Latvia along with a range of other countries outside the EU, from the Philippines to New Zealand 
  • 56% of respondents indicated they expected them to stay for two years or more; very few regarded them as transient or temporary 
  • 60% of the migrant labour had been recruited directly, very often through word of mouth
  • 94% of respondents said willingness to work was the main reason for employing migrant labour, followed by being a team player, and having technical and appropriate communication skills
  • 62% of respondents preferred recruiting migrant labour because there was insufficient UK skilled labour available