Page 12 - Farm labour in the UK
P. 12

 “This year we employed 3,600 people and we have actually only got 2,600 jobs. The 2,600 are for six months. So, if somebody only stays for three months that is two people needed to do that job” (Farmer)
This section explores the current situation regarding
the agricultural workforce in the UK. The quality of quantitative data regarding hired farm workers in the U.K varies. While the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) conducts an annual sample survey of agricultural holdings in the UK, which includes numbers of farm workers, accurate data capture is thwarted by the timing of the survey and the limited scope of the data collected. Equally, attempts to pinpoint the contributions of individual seasonal workers to agricultural work over a given
The majority of casual workers are found on horticultural and general cropping holdings. Similarly, the majority of regular full-time workers can also be found on horticulture and general cropping holdings as well as cereals and dairy. Regular part-time workers tend to predominate on grazing livestock, cereals, and dairy farms (Figure 2). Numbers are distributed differently across holding types, as many horticultural units employ large numbers of workers compared to other sectors (Figure 3).
Numbers of people employed in agriculture have levelled-off over the last ten years (Figure 4) as compared to the dramatic decrease shown in Figure 1 (see page 2). Figure 5 demonstrates how numbers of workers under the control of farm managers have changed between 1969 and 2020.
year are difficult due to the transitory nature of workers, some of whom will move from farm to farm with the harvest seasons, as well as the seasonal nature of the work. While Defra has collected information regarding seasonal labour in horticulture for England on a quarterly basis since 2018, other sectors reliant upon seasonal workers lack an equivalent dataset. Here, data gaps have been filled as far as possible using smaller surveys, industry sector data, technical reports and academic research. Obtaining accurate information regarding numbers of farm workers is important in order to be able to identify, implement and effectively monitor government policies supporting the future of agriculture in this country. It is important to remember that official data sets fail to capture numbers of unpaid, undocumented or illegal workers used in farming (Devlin 2016), a cohort urgently requiring further examination.

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