RABDF submits evidence in ‘last ditch attempt’ to save foreign dairy workers

The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) has submitted evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) in the hope that dairy farm workers can be added to the UK’s labour shortage list.

The MAC will use the responses to support the evidence-based recommendations delivered to the Home Secretary in September 2020, which did not include dairy workers on the MAC Shortage Occupation List.

There are grave fears failure to include foreign dairy workers on the list following this latest consultation will leave the sector with a labour shortage from next year when a new points-based immigration system is implemented.

The points-based immigration system gives priority to those with the “highest skills and greatest talents”, with dairy workers not falling into these categories.

RABDF managing director Matt Knight said: “Dairy workers are not classed as highly-skilled and they are currently not listed on the MAC Shortage Occupation List.

“This failure to recognize dairy workers will leave the UK dairy industry with a severe labour shortage with some of the largest dairy producers in the UK relying on skilled foreign labour.

There are real concerns that post-2021 some of our largest, most technically-advanced dairy farms could be lost due to their reliance on foreign labour.

“Should this happen, the repercussions would be felt right across the industry, with associated businesses such as feed companies and veterinary practices also affected, let alone the impact on milk supply,” he added.

A 2016 survey by RABDF found more than half of respondents employed staff from outside of the UK in the last five years – a 24% increase on 2014. Almost two-thirds said this was due to insufficient UK staff being available.