Page 50 - Farm labour in the UK
P. 50

However, it is believed that the majority of prison workers are on board with resettlement programmes and employment assistance.
Another barrier to recruitment is the fact that prisons tend to be too far away from agricultural workplaces.
Finding sufficient funding.
Not enough prisoners/ex-offenders available to fill
all seasonal roles.
“I’ve had questions before on ex- offenders or even current prisoners being suggested as potential sources of labour for seasonal roles, but I think the actual current prison population didn’t equate to the overall workforce needs” (Labour expert 2)
Farm labour is sometimes associated with ‘hard labour’. It is crucial that any attempt to rehabilitate prisoners into a life outside of prison through a career in farming be achieved through providing education, training, qualifications and opportunities for long- term, fulfilling employment, rather than trying to transfer the same pay, conditions, potential for exploitation and limited opportunities suffered by migrant workers to another societal group treated as ‘low-status’. Physically capable, serving prisoners might act as one potential solution to fill seasonal positions, should the individual seek to earn some extra money and be consenting. But forced labour should never be considered as an option to solve the seasonal farm labour crisis.
Some states in America use ‘convict leasing’, where prisoners’ labour is leased to private parties (including agricultural businesses). Unfortunately many of these workers are underpaid or unpaid and the process is described as ‘a sickening replication of the recently abolished relationship between slave and slaveholder’ (Whitehouse 2017: 95). Convict-leasing is controversial and the UK should be wary of attempting to go down this route. It has been suggested that prisoners on early release, community sentences, or reaching the end of their sentence could be offered paid seasonal work on farms, but due to the nature of the work, this must be voluntary.
Also, those who have already examined this premise as a possibility recognise that numbers of suitable candidates would not make up the shortfall. It should be ensured that opportunities offer potential for ex- offenders to find long-term employment, not a chain gang solution to seasonal work.
A strategy such as that used by some US states promoting firefighter jobs to prisoners and leavers might be more advantageous, where incentives such as shortening prison terms as a condition of employment, expunging records, and/or waiving parole are employed (Mossberg and Almasy 2020). This way, there is the potential for both employers and workers to benefit.
“If you were going to do it as a farming community, then you would get fantastic credibility for it, if they started a programme which was a kind of ‘from prison to farming’ or whatever you would call it” (Ex-offenders 3)
There are currently very few projects aiming to match homeless people to work on farms. Some of the existing projects include:
➢ St Mungo’s ‘Putting down roots’ project: roots/
➢ Springstart – A new project with the objective of matching homeless people to roles on farms:
➢ Project Speranta: speranta-a-labour-sourcing-opportunity-for- alp-members/
While many homeless individuals are categorised as vulnerable for a variety of reasons, the latter two initiatives are focussed on matching people to full-

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