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Farm leaders have called on the government to help ease the labour shortage in the dairy sector. Call for help to solve dairy labour shortage

Farm leaders have called on the government to help ease the labour shortage in the dairy sector.

It follows a roundtable meeting organised by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers. Held at the House of Lords, the meeting discussed the growing labour crisis in the dairy industry and outline ways to overcome it.

Hosted by RABDF president Lord Ewen Cameron and chaired by RABDF Chairman Di Wastenage MBE, the meeting included government officials, dairy farmers, processors and other industry representatives.

Topics discussed immediate and longer term labour requirements; identifying and improving the image of dairy farming; and ways to overcome barriers to recruitment and entry into the industry.

RABDF chairwoman Di Wastenage said: “This week’s roundtable was an invaluable discussion on how to create a short- and longer-term pipeline of employees coming into the industry.

“This isn’t something that can be done overnight, and it will take time to prioritise how we do this and the key stakeholders needed to help us get there. It’s clear that access to foreign labour is something we still need in the short term.”


Ms Wastenage said the RABDF would be reiterating that message in its submission to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) Review. But she warned that overseas labour was not a long-term solution.

“For that, we need to look at a myriad of options from education in schools, brand building, skills development, attracting employees from diverse backgrounds, and setting up a dairy scholarship scheme, as examples.”   

“Labour on dairy farms is a paramount issue and we need this pipeline of employees to safeguard the industry. Following the roundtable, the next steps are to identify the key players and where shortages lie, which we will achieve with our labour survey.”