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Farmers struggling to recruit migrant workers (Radio 4)

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Yesterday (8th Feb) on "Farming Today" (BBC Radio 4, 5:45am), there was a substantial article on farmers struggling to recruit migrant workers, due to the falling pound. This has apparently been getting serious since the end of last year, when we nearly suffered a Brussels sprout shortage. More seriously, I think it has quite broad repercussions for the economy, for Europe, and potentially for land values.

The reported housing aspect of this, was that farmers were now having to build "luxury caravan parks" to attract enough people, which even had such novelties as a "communal area". They still had to use the local churches' rescue shelter to prevent people dying in cold weather, though.

Also, no mention of increasing the wages, especially not to the point where local people might be interested.

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My farmer neighbour doesn't seem to have any trouble hiring Lithuanians.  I saw 10 cars there a few weeks ago so that is 10-20 living in caravans, hidden out of side behind the storage barns. I believe planning permission allows seasonal workers to stay in caravans but funnily enough, they are there all year (complete farm is under glass so crop grows all year)

I've checked and none are listed for council tax.  I hate to think how much is being paid out in tax credits and child benefit for children outside the UK. One female worker had a baby a couple of years ago then became entitled to a council provided flat in the nearby town.

 

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11 minutes ago, VeryMeanReversion said:

My farmer neighbour doesn't seem to have any trouble hiring Lithuanians.  I saw 10 cars there a few weeks ago so that is 10-20 living in caravans, hidden out of side behind the storage barns. I believe planning permission allows seasonal workers to stay in caravans but funnily enough, they are there all year (complete farm is under glass so crop grows all year)

I've checked and none are listed for council tax.  I hate to think how much is being paid out in tax credits and child benefit for children outside the UK. One female worker had a baby a couple of years ago then became entitled to a council provided flat in the nearby town.

 

The sooner beneits are ended for non UK nationals the better.

 

Farmers can fck off. Bunch of subsidy sucking parasites. I speak as someone from a rural background.

 

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1 hour ago, VeryMeanReversion said:

My farmer neighbour doesn't seem to have any trouble hiring Lithuanians.  I saw 10 cars there a few weeks ago so that is 10-20 living in caravans, hidden out of side behind the storage barns. I believe planning permission allows seasonal workers to stay in caravans but funnily enough, they are there all year (complete farm is under glass so crop grows all year)

I've checked and none are listed for council tax.  I hate to think how much is being paid out in tax credits and child benefit for children outside the UK. One female worker had a baby a couple of years ago then became entitled to a council provided flat in the nearby town.

 

Report them?

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you mean all those unemployed ukipers who voted leave because the foreigners are taking their jobs don't want to do this kind of work? surely not

The foreigners don't want to do it either- that's why you have to pay them. They do the job because they find the wages on offer better relative to the wages they could earn back home.

So all that needs to happen is that the wages on offer need to rise to make the job attractive to local workers and the problem is solved.

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, wonderpup said:

The foreigners don't want to do it either- that's why you have to pay them. They do the job because they find the wages on offer better relative to the wages they could earn back home.

So all that needs to happen is that the wages on offer need to rise to make the job attractive to local workers and the problem is solved.

 

If £ down 20% vs home currency and they send 50% back home as remittances, wages would need to rise 10%. That's a lot.

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7 hours ago, spyguy said:

The sooner beneits are ended for non UK nationals the better.

 

Farmers can fck off. Bunch of subsidy sucking parasites. I speak as someone from a rural background.

 

Good point well made.

 

Why don't farmers either:

-Pay a wage that someone living full time in the UK full time can actually live on 

 

Or

 

-Invest in automation (plenty of crop picking solutions exist, it is just with rock bottom wages it is not worth making the investment yet)

Edited by reddog

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30 minutes ago, reddog said:

 

 

Why don't farmers either:

-Pay a wage that someone living full time in the UK full time can actually live on

I'm not on the side of farmers here as I am in total agreement with spy on this.  I grew up in a rural area and farmers have forever whinged about being poor.  As we all used to say, there is no such thing as a poor farmer.  The cars they drive tell you this.  

However, why would they pay a living wage when practically no other employer in the land does.  I'm not exaggerating here.  There are a few well paid and reasonably paid employment opportunities but the majority of work these days is part time, minimum wage and if the individual is really unlucky, zero hour contracted.  

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I think the general tone of comments so far is a little anti farmer, and I'm not really sure why. Farmers are not elites, they're in of the hardest working and worst paid jobs in the uk. I'm not sure it's fair to put all of the blame on them for the low wages and the problems of benefits of their casual work force. 

- Farmers have the highest rate of suicide of any profession http://www.fwi.co.uk/farm-life/suicide-investigating-a-farming-taboo.htm

- barring poultry farming,  farming in the uk without subsidies simply isn't profitable. Farmers are not well paid, even after subsidies, and the average farm business makes little yearly profit https://fullfact.org/economy/farming-subsidies-uk/

We can argue all we want about the problems of subsidies, but I expect we can agree that it's a good idea of having working farms in the uk. The fact is, with current pricing and supermarket power as it is, farmers cant afford to raise laborers wages, nor can they afford to lose their subsidies and remain viable. And they don't have any pricing power to raise their prices. 

I agree heavy subsidies of production and labour are a problem, but vitriolic blaming of farmers for the problems of our politics and big business dominated society seems highly misguided... They're symptoms of the problem, not the cause... much like blaming immigrants for all our problems (but that's another topic). 

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6 minutes ago, Foreverblowingbubbles said:

I think the general tone of comments so far is a little anti farmer, and I'm not really sure why. Farmers are not elites, they're in of the hardest working and worst paid jobs in the uk. I'm not sure it's fair to put all of the blame on them for the low wages and the problems of benefits of their casual work force. 

- Farmers have the highest rate of suicide of any profession http://www.fwi.co.uk/farm-life/suicide-investigating-a-farming-taboo.htm

- barring poultry farming,  farming in the uk without subsidies simply isn't profitable. Farmers are not well paid, even after subsidies, and the average farm business makes little yearly profit https://fullfact.org/economy/farming-subsidies-uk/

We can argue all we want about the problems of subsidies, but I expect we can agree that it's a good idea of having working farms in the uk. The fact is, with current pricing and supermarket power as it is, farmers cant afford to raise laborers wages, nor can they afford to lose their subsidies and remain viable. And they don't have any pricing power to raise their prices. 

I agree heavy subsidies of production and labour are a problem, but vitriolic blaming of farmers for the problems of our politics and big business dominated society seems highly misguided... They're symptoms of the problem, not the cause... much like blaming immigrants for all our problems (but that's another topic). 

I have some sympathy for your position.  As in any walk of life, there are a range of experiences.  At school my best mate's dad was a tenant sheep farmer with a tide cottage. The poverty was something to behold.  We had to take his lunch to him one day. He was sat, smoking his pipe, in a Shepard's hut on the side of a hill on the north yorks moors. The wind would cut you in two and there he sat taking a break from rounding up the sheep. Not a life I envied.

another experience was lodging in a massive, centuries old farmhouse in Helmsley. I was invited to the local young farmers' outing to the pub.  Surrounded by hooray henries. A very privileged life with lots of money and a good lifestyle. 

The facts of the matter are that this second lot, who hold the land and means of production, are given subsides through the cap. The former goes cap in hand living a very impoverished life. 

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Farmings not profitable as mainly farmers have blown up the price of land.

Theyve blown it up because they get subs.

The comment about farmng not being viable without subs is BS.

Lots of sectors which people would classify as farming receive little or no subsidy - horticulture for instance.

Ive sat in meetings where farmers bitch about supermarkets - totally bogus in a lot of axses - set up a coop and then screw each other over. Useless.

Most UK farmers are amateurs. Vast subbs. Vast tax advantages. Ive rarely met one competent famer. And I used to sociallise with them.

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3 minutes ago, One-percent said:

I have some sympathy for your position.  As in any walk of life, there are a range of experiences.  At school my best mate's dad was a tenant sheep farmer with a tide cottage. The poverty was something to behold.  We had to take his lunch to him one day. He was sat, smoking his pipe, in a Shepard's hut on the side of a hill on the north yorks moors. The wind would cut you in two and there he sat taking a break from rounding up the sheep. Not a life I envied.

another experience was lodging in a massive, centuries old farmhouse in Helmsley. I was invited to the local young farmers' outing to the pub.  Surrounded by hooray henries. A very privileged life with lots of money and a good lifestyle. 

The facts of the matter are that this second lot, who hold the land and means of production, are given subsides through the cap. The former goes cap in hand living a very impoverished life. 

Tenant sheep farming in the uplands is a nut proposition. They be better off grwoing pineapples - people eat pineapples.

Trying to make money from sheep farming is like me trying to make money by making processors from indiviudal transistors - pointless, make-work.

Helmsley you are down in the rich, arable world of the Wolds.

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So we're probably talking about the difference between land owners, and tenant farmers here. I imagine the hooray henries didn't actually work the farm themselves? 

It's another part of society where elites drink the cream, whilst surfs do the hard work for no reward. 

Spyguy, does it surprise you that the farmers you've met are not the most competent? It's just not a career choice anyone with other options would. F*ing hard work, f*ing long hours, and f*ing little money (unless your family owned swathes of land for generations). 

You can grumble about people you've met all you want spyguy, I don't personally accept that 'farmers' are a valid enemy here. Most real working farmers are as much a victim of land price inflation as any of us looking to buy an overpriced 2 bed flat

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36 minutes ago, Foreverblowingbubbles said:

I think the general tone of comments so far is a little anti farmer, and I'm not really sure why. Farmers are not elites, they're in of the hardest working and worst paid jobs in the uk. I'm not sure it's fair to put all of the blame on them for the low wages and the problems of benefits of their casual work force. 

- Farmers have the highest rate of suicide of any profession http://www.fwi.co.uk/farm-life/suicide-investigating-a-farming-taboo.htm

- barring poultry farming,  farming in the uk without subsidies simply isn't profitable. Farmers are not well paid, even after subsidies, and the average farm business makes little yearly profit https://fullfact.org/economy/farming-subsidies-uk/

We can argue all we want about the problems of subsidies, but I expect we can agree that it's a good idea of having working farms in the uk. The fact is, with current pricing and supermarket power as it is, farmers cant afford to raise laborers wages, nor can they afford to lose their subsidies and remain viable. And they don't have any pricing power to raise their prices. 

I agree heavy subsidies of production and labour are a problem, but vitriolic blaming of farmers for the problems of our politics and big business dominated society seems highly misguided... They're symptoms of the problem, not the cause... much like blaming immigrants for all our problems (but that's another topic). 

Saying that farming without subsidies is not profitable is a completely load of horse sh!t.  Farmland sells for £10k an acre in the UK.  No one is buying farmland at £10k an acre to lose money.

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35 minutes ago, reddog said:

Good point well made.

 

Why don't farmers either:

-Pay a wage that someone living full time in the UK full time can actually live on 

 

Or

 

-Invest in automation (plenty of crop picking solutions exist, it is just with rock bottom wages it is not worth making the investment yet)

Because many farmers are massively indebted. UK arable farmland prices were in a massive bull run for 15 year up until 2016, a 250 per cent rise in land values in ten years, outperforming gilts and central London housing. This has largely been driven by the same forces that have pushed up house prices to stupid levels, easy credit, foreign investors and greed. Farmers have piled in and are up to their necks in debt.

Its screwing farming in this country, wages have to be low, investing in automation is not feasible, young would be farmers with new ideas cant get a start, huge areas of land are owned by foreigners and London investors who haven't even seen the fields taking the subsidies and renting the land out to tenant farmers who can just about make something from it. 

Its all about to change though,land prices fell last year because of Brexit and lower Wheat prices, another year of falls and the **** will fall out of it. They wont be bailed out either. 

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13 minutes ago, Foreverblowingbubbles said:

So we're probably talking about the difference between land owners, and tenant farmers here. I imagine the hooray henries didn't actually work the farm themselves? 

It's another part of society where elites drink the cream, whilst surfs do the hard work for no reward. 

Spyguy, does it surprise you that the farmers you've met are not the most competent? It's just not a career choice anyone with other options would. F*ing hard work, f*ing long hours, and f*ing little money (unless your family owned swathes of land for generations). 

You can grumble about people you've met all you want spyguy, I don't personally accept that 'farmers' are a valid enemy here. Most real working farmers are as much a victim of land price inflation as any of us looking to buy an overpriced 2 bed flat

Its not a career option for anyone who's Dad is not a farmer. Full stop.

 

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Got this from Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture_in_the_United_Kingdom

Farmers represent an ageing population, partly due to low earnings and barriers to entry, and it is increasingly hard to recruit young people into farming. The average farm holder is 59 years old

70% of farmers in the uk own land, and 30% are tenants. 

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Just now, HHGH said:

Because many farmers are massively indebted. UK arable farmland prices were in a massive bull run for 15 year up until 2016, a 250 per cent rise in land values in ten years, outperforming gilts and central London housing. This has largely been driven by the same forces that have pushed up house prices to stupid levels, easy credit, foreign investors and greed. Farmers have piled in and are up to their necks in debt.

Its screwing farming in this country, wages have to be low, investing in automation is not feasible, young would be farmers with new ideas cant get a start, huge areas of land are owned by foreigners and London investors who haven't even seen the fields taking the subsidies and renting the land out to tenant farmers who can just about make something from it. 

Its all about to change though,land prices fell last year because of Brexit and lower Wheat prices, another year of falls and the **** will fall out of it. They wont be bailed out either. 

I dont deny that Famers are tied to the same stupid train wreck as the rest of the UK.

But have a look at what the average faemer earns and what they get for subs.

Back to mine + 1% local area - youll see very little farming. Most of it is ar5sing around waiting for subs.

Stainthorpes are in the Waitrose expensive beef group.

Some of the upper Esk farmers are in an ASDA coop.

 

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8 minutes ago, Foreverblowingbubbles said:

So we're probably talking about the difference between land owners, and tenant farmers here. I imagine the hooray henries didn't actually work the farm themselves? 

It's another part of society where elites drink the cream, whilst surfs do the hard work for no reward. 

Spyguy, does it surprise you that the farmers you've met are not the most competent? It's just not a career choice anyone with other options would. F*ing hard work, f*ing long hours, and f*ing little money (unless your family owned swathes of land for generations). 

You can grumble about people you've met all you want spyguy, I don't personally accept that 'farmers' are a valid enemy here. Most real working farmers are as much a victim of land price inflation as any of us looking to buy an overpriced 2 bed flat

Exactly my point.  When people criticise 'farmers' they are targeting those that hold the land. As with every other person selling their toil, tenant farmers or those working as farmers for others are getting, quite frankly a sh!ty deal

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Just now, Foreverblowingbubbles said:

Got this from Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture_in_the_United_Kingdom

Farmers represent an ageing population, partly due to low earnings and barriers to entry, and it is increasingly hard to recruit young people into farming. The average farm holder is 59 years old

70% of farmers in the uk own land, and 30% are tenants. 

Why do you think the average age is high?

 

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4 minutes ago, HHGH said:

Because many farmers are massively indebted. UK arable farmland prices were in a massive bull run for 15 year up until 2016, a 250 per cent rise in land values in ten years, outperforming gilts and central London housing. This has largely been driven by the same forces that have pushed up house prices to stupid levels, easy credit, foreign investors and greed. Farmers have piled in and are up to their necks in debt.

Its screwing farming in this country, wages have to be low, investing in automation is not feasible, young would be farmers with new ideas cant get a start, huge areas of land are owned by foreigners and London investors who haven't even seen the fields taking the subsidies and renting the land out to tenant farmers who can just about make something from it. 

Its all about to change though,land prices fell last year because of Brexit and lower Wheat prices, another year of falls and the **** will fall out of it. They wont be bailed out either. 

I'm not sure that you can blame this on brexit.  Above your assertion is an analysis that farm land is a massive bubble.  There is the real issue. Everything in the uk is driven by the cost of land and property. It has not only skewed the real economy, it has killed it dead. 

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