May 26, 2020
UK poultry sector sees new immigration bill as threat to migrant 'key food workers'
The British Poultry Council (BPC) has expressed opposition to the immigration bill that labels "key food workers" as "low-skilled", many of whom come from other EU countries who would not be eligible to become permanent residents of the UK from January 2021 under Brexit policy.
In an article on its website, the BPC noted that half of Britain's food workers are EU migrants and "COVID-19 brought an unusual kind of recognition for [these] migrant workers who were upgraded in the public rhetoric from 'low-skilled' to 'essential' to running the country".
BPC Chief Executive Richard Griffiths said: "Government must recognise that the food on the nation's dinner tables under lockdown is being produced in large part by the people who their proposed policy will alienate".
"This Bill is likely to have a crippling effect on British food production and national food security. The UK cannot afford to lose its unsung food heroes who muck in, face the challenges, and risk their lives to feed this country".
Griffiths said the government must recognise food as a national security issue and must ensure that it stays affordable and available for all. "Losing control of how we feed ourselves as a nation would undermine British food producers at a time when we should be taking matters of food security into our own hands".
He said British food businesses deserve an immigration policy that makes it easier for them to retain access to skills and talent that Britain sorely needs.
"The current immigration plans is likely to have a crippling impact on food businesses already facing the consequences of the pandemic and make access to quality British food harder for all", he pointed out.
The BPC stressed that the government must instead introduce routes for food workers to come in and fill vacancies that "cannot be filled by UK workers".