02 April 2020
Today’s pandemic is not great reading in the news. The desire of the general public for more upbeat stories to take us away from the daily blight of how many individuals have died in the UK and worldwide today or yesterday, is becoming more prevalent.
Farming can, and is, providing that good news story, if only it could break through the noise and make itself heard. Other than the initial days of the pandemic, when panic buying was rife, farmers and other food producers were all stating that there was plenty in the food chain for all. It just needed a shift of emphasis to overcome the challenges that the Coronavirus provided in terms of the workforce and how farms did business logistically.
Whilst historically farm shops were all part of the diversification process of farmers, giving an outlet for the farms produce to local customers rather than just supply the big supermarkets, many farm shops now, have seen an increase and some a huge increase, in terms of sales and footfall, as the outdoor restrictions and more local shopping, increases. Increasing numbers of customers can only be a good thing for the farmer as they diversify away from the big chains.
The main issue that will come to hit farming, if not now but in the very short term, will be the lack of workforce. As things stand at present the impact of Brexit and the travel restrictions placed on the traditional migrant workforce will mean that at a conservative estimate there will be a shortfall in potential workforce numbers of up to 70,000 individuals in Kent alone. That is without a farm being impacted by anyone within the business having to self-isolate or become infected.
Despite, a few weeks ago, the farming industry being written off as not needed, as everything we need can be obtained from abroad, the current situation has shown that the industry is far more strategically important than first considered and needs protecting and support.
If you have any farming or rural needs then please contact me or your usual local UHY contact.