Poultry meat inclusion on seasonal worker visa scheme will strengthen food security, says BPC Chief Executive.

Government’s newly launched food strategy must seek to safeguard world class British food standards, says the British Poultry Council.

BPC welcome a series of measures designed to support Britain’s £8.1 billion poultry industry in playing its key role in ensuring British food security. With businesses mitigating the challenges presented by Brexit red tape, inflationary pressure and war in Ukraine, a commitment to foundational British standards, and their application for imported food, matters more than ever for the affordability and availability of British food.

A pledge to review the problem of labour, combined with a series of planned investments to increase focus on skills and highlight long-term career pathways in food and farming, champions the work British producers continue to put into this area, whilst setting the blueprint for a long-term vision for British food and farming.

BPC Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said: “Our member businesses have been investing time and money into levelling up infrastructure, tapping into automation and upskilling their domestic workforce. This food strategy goes a long way in setting the blueprint for how Government intends to boost British industry whilst safeguarding our food security.

The measures outlined, including spending for the Farming Innovation Programme, and ambitions for locally produced food in procurement services, actively commit to a sustainable, thriving food sector. Willingness to collaborate with industry is more important than ever. In these times, our most reliable source of food is what we produce at home. In particular, the inclusion of poultry meat workers on the seasonal visa scheme is a big step in this positive direction.

The announcement that the government will provide an additional 2,000 places for poultry this year under SAWS is a big win for the poultry sector.

Poultry makes up half the meat the nation eats. Labour shortages, driven by the effects of Brexit and compounded by factors like the pandemic, have demonstrated the importance of adopting realistic policies that enable British businesses to drive productivity, create good jobs and keep food moving to strengthen food security in an independent UK.

Mr Griffiths added: “The visa scheme, combined with a review into labour challenges plaguing the food and farming sector, will play a meaningful role in ensuring certainty in our workforce in peak periods to guarantee the robustness of our supply chains.

At its core, this food strategy is about bolstering our domestic supply chains to ensure accessible food for all. The seasonal visa scheme is an example of adopting pragmatic policies that not only strengthen our food security in the short term but paves the way for ambitious change in a thriving UK post-Brexit. If we are serious about addressing the growing risk of food insecurity in Britain, it begins with actively supporting those putting food on every table right now.