British Growers and Labour Providers announce alliance

by James Hallett

New alliance on labour supply launched in the UK fresh produce sector

A strategic alliance has been established between the Association of Labour Providers (ALP) and the British Growers Association (BGA) to strengthen arrangements for labour supply to the UK horticulture sector.

The new agreement will improve communication, collaboration and joint representation between the two organisations to highlight the economic importance of labour provision in the fresh produce sector, to promote best practice in the supply and management of labour, and to champion the work and career opportunities available in the UK horticulture industry.

While discussions between the two organisations have been ongoing for some time, BGA chief executive James Hallett said the Government’s recent and disappointing decision not to replace the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) at the end of this year gave added impetus to the move as the UK horticulture sector works to avert a potential labour crisis in the coming years.

“The Government’s decision to scrap the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme – which accounts for a third of Britain’s seasonal agricultural labour force - puts the supply of reliable and skilled workers right at the top of the industry’s agenda. This partnership not only represents a joint commitment to drive up standards and improve collaboration across all aspects of labour provision in the fresh produce sector, it also strengthens our voice in pressing Ministers to explain how they will work with the industry to ensure enough workers can be found to carry out essential planting and harvesting operations on UK farms.

“The UK’s £3.7bn fresh produce industry is a high-value sector of the agri-food economy with significant potential to support the Government’s drive for economic growth through improvements in productivity, efficiency and innovation. But Ministers must recognise that continuing uncertainty over labour supply represents a major threat to UK growers’ future production and investment plans,” said Mr Hallett.

“BGA will now be working closely with ALP and other key industry stakeholders to press the Government for alternative solutions which will help secure adequate and reliable staffing levels across the sector.”

ALP Director David Camp said his organisation’s strategic alliance with BGA marked an important first step in tackling a potential labour shortage in the fresh produce sector.

“ALP members supply the majority of seasonal workers into the UK food and agricultural sectors. It is essential that every horticultural business which relies upon seasonal workers plans now to secure their labour supply in 2014 and beyond. This will require early planning and may involve new ways of thinking and alternative models of supply. This new strategic alliance between ALP and BGA is extremely timely in providing a clear focus for joint action and representation in meeting the challenge of labour provision in the UK fresh produce sector,” said Mr Camp.

ENDS

Notes to Editors
The British Growers Association (BGA) represents UK fresh produce growers. The British horticulture sector is worth £3.7bn to the UK economy, employing over 100,000 full-time and seasonal workers. Horticulture is a high-value sector of the rural economy, producing 20% of the output value of UK farming on just 4% of the land area. BGA works to support an innovative, technically advanced and environmentally responsible horticulture sector, combining efficient production of high quality fresh produce with careful stewardship and protection of natural resources.

The Association of Labour Providers (ALP) is the specialist trade association offering support and expert advice to organisations that provide and use workers within the food, agricultural and other GLA regulated sectors. Its members also include industrial labour providers. Established in 2004, the ALP’s goal is for the provision of temporary labour to the UK food and agricultural sectors to be recognised as a model of good practice.


Contacts for further information:
James Hallett, Chief Executive, British Growers Association
T: 07775 644475
E: james.hallett@britishgrowers.org
W: www.britishgrowers.org

David Camp, Director, Association of Labour Providers
T: 01276 509306
E: info@labourproviders.org.uk
W: www.labourproviders.org.uk

Issued by:
Daniel Pearsall, Front Foot Communications
T: 07770 875455
E: daniel.pearsall@frontfoot.uk.com