Last month, it announced plans to issue temporary visas for 5,000 foreign truck drivers and 5,500 poultry workers, but the government wants companies to invest in a UK workforce rather than relying on cheap foreign labor.
Ministers have also been keen to downplay proposals that Britain’s exit from the European Union was the most important issue for labor in the supply chains.
Many workers in the pig industry had gone home during the pandemic and simply did not return, Eustice said.
“It’s a complex picture: there have been many market disruptions, problems with access to the Chinese market, perhaps some overproduction – here production is increasing by about 7 percent – and yes, labor has been an aggravating factor but it has not been the only factor, says Eustice.
“The pig industry, and in common with many parts of the food industry, has seen a loss of staff as many EU citizens as they trusted on the left during the pandemic – nothing to do with Brexit.”
As part of the measures to address the problem of the shortage of truck drivers, he said that cabotage rules for EU drivers would be eased so that they could make as many journeys as they wanted over a two-week period.