Farm staff shortage - Esus Agri Ltd

The agriculture and horticulture industries were recently overlooked in the government’s latest Shortage Occupation List (SOL). The UK shortage occupation list 2023 published in October did not cite agricultural roles on the list and this is unlikely to change in the near future.


The Shortage Occupation List pdf, lists occupations where employers face a shortage of suitable labour and where it is deemed appropriate to fill those shortages with migrant workers. For industries listed in the review, this means favourable UK immigration rules with the aim to help mitigate labour shortages. While previous reports have highlighted labour shortages in farming, this was overlooked in the UK shortage occupation list 2023, an outcome which has been deemed ‘disappointing’ by the NFU.  In its own recent review, the NFU challenged the outcome, conducting a survey on 563 of its members. The findings were a stark reminder of the challenges UK farmers are facing… 41.5% of respondents who are struggling to recruit and retain workers have reduced their production levels, a great concern when it comes to British food production. 


NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw shared his thoughts “It’s disappointing that the evident shortages impacting the agriculture industry haven’t been recognised. We know farmers are having difficulty recruiting long-term for vital roles in their farm businesses.”


Farming and the UK Shortage Occupation List - Esus Agri Ltd

The NFU review recommended the following roles to be added to the Shortage Occupation List:


  • Machine operator (field)/harvest operator
  • Dairy technician
  • Horticulture/potato supervisor with language skills
  • Egg grader
  • Poultry shed cleaner
  • General farmworker
  • Hatchery operative/catcher
  • Machine operator (packhouse).


To conclude, it goes without saying that UK farmers continue to face great difficulty in recruiting vital roles and this is undoubtedly impacting national production levels. Here at Esus Agri Ltd, we are in agreement that The Shortage Occupation List should most certainly be reconsidered and it’s in everyone’s best interest to mitigate labour shortages within the industry and support UK farmers.


Before you go…

Esus Agri Ltd has been helping farmers thrive since 1995. We have worked with farms from 40 ha to 100,000 ha, delivering truly sustainable solutions that drive real results for farming businesses across Devon, Somerset and the rest of the UK. To find out how we can support you with farm diversification, business management advice, step-by-step farm grants applications and more, contact us today!