To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to the pursuant to the Answer of 12 November 2018 to Question 187334 on Food: Production, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the food and farming sector on employing workers in the sector.
It is a priority of this Government to enable an innovative, productive and competitive food supply chain, which invests in its people and skills.
Defra Ministers have ongoing discussions with a wide range of stakeholders about securing the workforce that the food and farming industry needs for the future.
The new Food and Drink Sector Council provides a valuable focus on skills and talent in the food chain through a new partnership between industry and government. The Council was announced in the Government’s Industrial Strategy and is a formal industry partnership with government which aims to improve the productivity and sustainability of the entire food chain.
The Council has established Workforce and Agricultural Productivity Working Groups: these are industry-led and will have a key role to play in identifying and addressing skills gaps, as well as promoting the food chain as a great place to work.
The Secretary of State attended a Sector Council meeting on 17 October 2018 where he acknowledged the Council’s concerns arising from the UK’s departure from the EU, which included a reliance on a European workforce. In concluding discussions at the meeting it was agreed that the Council had an important role to play in alerting Government to key issues and helping shape potential solutions.