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Farmers asking for Land Army...would this work?

(19 Posts)
Pikachu Sat 21-Mar-20 12:30:31

Just been reading that the usual 160,000 seasonal workers from Europe will be unable to come to the UK to help picking fruit and vegetables due to travel restrictions.

Farmers are asking for people to volunteer, especially those who are laid off now due to Coronavirus. Thinking of all the young(ish) staff from bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, theatres, students, etc. Wouldn’t it be better to harness their work capacity and pay them to do this rather than sit at home?

Is is feasible? Ethical? Practical?

EllanVannin Sat 21-Mar-20 12:31:38

They wouldn't do it !

Gaunt47 Sat 21-Mar-20 12:34:10

Well they might get out of bed for a couple of hours.

Pikachu Sat 21-Mar-20 12:41:32

That’s very cynical. Are you suggesting this younger generation, especially those who already work long, unsociable hours in the catering sector for low pay, are lazy and disinterested?

Davidhs Sat 21-Mar-20 12:46:31

I’m sure growers are taking this into account, when and where they plant crops, as most migrant workers come from Eastern Europe the crops will have to be planted there. It’s not difficult to move field crops, many of the large growers have overseas operations already, strawberries and tomatoes are more difficult.

merlotgran Sat 21-Mar-20 12:50:02

Is there any mention of how much they would be paid? It's hard, back-breaking work, often in sweltering hot weather.

I think it's essential that no food is wasted though and as there will be fit, young people with no jobs to go to, I hesitate to say it but there should be a way of setting up some kind of national service (for want of a better term)

Septimia Sat 21-Mar-20 12:54:31

I don't see what point there would be in planting food crops in Eastern Europe. It's the farmers here that need the help, especially to pick from established fruit bushes and trees.

Even if they don't get the numbers they really need, I do hope that some people will take up the challenge. We need that food!

Whitewavemark2 Sat 21-Mar-20 13:00:15

Well the government has taken on war time powers. I would imagine this includes being able to direct the population into various employment.

wildswan16 Sat 21-Mar-20 13:17:09

I'm sure there are many younger workers from the catering/hospitality sector who would be only too pleased for some casual work in the next few months. These workers have no money to pay their rent or anything else and are desperately worried what will happen.

I can't see what the problem is at all. The only consideration is whether travelling from the cities to the countryside may spread the virus but maybe this possibility can be limited to some extent by good organisation.

merlotgran Sat 21-Mar-20 13:33:41

A lot of farms in East Anglia already have accommodation for seasonal workers.

A period of 14 days self-isolating would be necessary though before the start date. At least they would be working in the open and maintaining a safe distance from fellow workers shouldn't be a problem.

Davidhs Sat 21-Mar-20 14:16:16

Dont expect conscription to work in the fields, and the days when gangs of women working in the fields with the kids working alongside have long gone. Used to be common enough 25 yrs ago, I’m sure they get away with it it China, it’s not going to happen here.

Davidhs Sat 21-Mar-20 14:37:58

We all want to see U.K. food grown, the supply chain is closely integrated you can be sure that seasonal food will be available wherever it comes from. Established crops like apples and other trees are going to be a problem as usual, maybe students can be recruited, they’re not going to be going on overseas trips this summer.

Pikachu Sat 21-Mar-20 15:12:43

David any crop planted in Europe, eastern or otherwise, will be for feeding the local population. I’m talking about this country.

Pikachu Sat 21-Mar-20 15:14:34

Farmers call for Land Army

Pikachu Sat 21-Mar-20 15:17:12

It’s mainly harvesting vegetables. Potatoes, onions, cauliflowers, green beans, carrots, etc. and picking indoor crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers and so on.

I don’t think we can assume it will be easy to import more exotic produce as this is a pandemic.

Dottynan Sat 21-Mar-20 15:20:17

If the farmer is asking for volunteers is he going to pay them.

Pikachu Sat 21-Mar-20 15:24:23

Well he would be paying his European workers anyway. Perhaps some percentage from farmers and topped up by government?

After all BJ has said he would pay 80% of wages, this would work out cheaper.

patcaf Sat 21-Mar-20 15:50:01

I have worked in this area. It is hard, back breaking work. Very often in the rain and wind with dangerous machinery. Most workers live on site in caravans or sheds . Sometimes 6 or 8 to a caravan. Pay is poor and many farmers subtract subsistence money for lodgings and food. Also getting to these site is very difficult as there are no buses or trains. It is all agency staff as farmers never recruit directly. I would never suggest that my grandchildren did this type of work.

Only if farmers are prepared to pay a proper salary (£24,600 I think it is) would anyone even consider these roles.

Pikachu Sat 21-Mar-20 19:42:12

We lived in a rural area and when my children were home from Uni in the summer they worked in the fields for extra cash.. With modern machinery it is not as ‘back-breaking’ as all that. Yes, hard work but not like the old days. Some machines do most of the work, digging up the veg, washing and packing it automatically. Sometimes call my children had to do was packed it into cardboard boxes, seal and label it

Farmers pay the going national minimum wage and are contracted for 39 hours a week. The farms near where we lived provided decent caravans, and laid on a bus twice weekly to a local supermarket.

I think things have perhaps changed since your time patcaf and I feel that unless we are to expect shortages young people ought to be incentivised to help keep the wheels turning as our parents did during the war.