As the country goes into lockdown, key workers such as farmers are carrying on to keep people fed but are worried about what the future holds.
Chris Cardell a dairy farmer from Grampound, near Truro, anticipates problems in the industry caused by travel restrictions and staff shortages. He also says the industry is moving toward the home market rather than the food service industry.
This comes after pubs, bars, restaurants were forced to close down by the government.
Thankfully as key workers we will still be able to move around to sow and harvest the crops. It’s not quite war time like but we have a duty to keep feeding the nation.
Mr Cardell said that crop growers will be the most vulnerable if staffing now becomes a concern, but these issues may be resolved if people in other industries who may have been laid off pick up the slack and fill the gap.
There are two main concerns in the weeks ahead. The first is labour and getting enough people to pick, pack and grade our fruit and veg as our season gets underway, especially if movement restrictions mean the usual seasonal workers are unable to come.
Mr Cardell is the chairman of the National Farmers Union tenants’ forum which has 4,000 members in Devon and Cornwall.
The union has seen increased demand for milk and dairy productions but no other change in production.
We have enough production in the UK to meet demand. Farmers will play their part in this. The industry will shift towards the home demand now the food service industry is shut down. We have seen a huge demand for milk and meat from people.
Mr Cardell said any farmer who has tried to diversify with holiday lets, kennels like he has or anything else, will see that side of the business wiped out.
We’re still looking after some people’s pets as they are stuck abroad and can’t come back yet. But if you rely on transient populations for your diversification, like holiday lets, then it will have a massive impact on your business.