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Turkey shortage: Farming bosses warn MPs over Christmas shortfalls

·2-min read
Industry bosses have warned that labour shortages could impact UK stocks for Christmas (Owen Humphreys/PA) (PA Archive)
Industry bosses have warned that labour shortages could impact UK stocks for Christmas (Owen Humphreys/PA) (PA Archive)

Turkey farmers fear shortages of workers could cause the Christmas dinner centrepiece to disappear off some of our tables this year.

Farming bosses have warned MPs that acute labour shortfalls caused by EU citizens leaving for home during the pandemic and not returning could result in supply shortages this Christmas.

They warned produce may have to be imported from Europe.

Graeme Dear, from the British Poultry Council, told MPs they were losing some 16 per cent of their workforce.

He said: “We have been given access through the seasonal workers scheme for up to 5,500 [employees] but that finishes on 31 December.”

“We would have loved to have known about that in June, and therefore could have placed enough turkeys for a full Christmas.

“We will do our utmost to make sure that Christmas is as normal as it can be, but there is a likelihood that there will be a shortage – had we known back in June or July, that would have been fixed.

“Around 90 per cent of our shortages are in the processing plants, and the irony is that we may find ourselves having to import turkey from France and Poland for a British Christmas, probably with some of the very workers we trained and left to go back to their homelands.”

Earlier this month France threatened to cut off supplies of Christmas turkeys unless continental fishermen are allowed to work in British waters.

European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune lashed out at the UK’s Brexit “failures” in a series of incendiary remarks.

He said that France’s trawlermen would not “pay the price” for the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Mr Beaune, senior ally of president Emmanuel Macron, continued: “Stop telling us you do not need us anymore, stop being obsessed with us, stop believing that we will solve your problems.

“They made a mess of Brexit. It’s their choice and their failure, not ours. It was a bad choice, we see that today.

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