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Lincolnshire Calls On Students To Form A Coronavirus ‘Land Army’

12 May 2020

Lincolnshire Calls On Students To Form A Coronavirus ‘Land Army’

Students in Lincolnshire are being called upon to form a ‘land army’ during the Coronavirus pandemic and pick the county’s fruit and veg.

Early in the Covid-19 outbreak, we wrote a news article about how the UK was facing a shortage of farm workers, potentially looking at a shortfall of 70,000 seasonal staff to pick the nation’s agricultural produce this year.

The lack of overseas workers because of Brexit, combined with an increase in demand for food and other supplies during the onset of the pandemic, led to a huge demand for homegrown British pickers to pick up the slack.

The problem was (and, obviously, still is) exacerbated by the travel restrictions put in place to reduce the spread of the virus.

We also mentioned in that March article about how fruit and veg picking work should be perfect for students looking for summer jobs in the great outdoors.

And now the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership has joined the push to get Sixth-form, college and university students into the fields of the county (along with nearby Rutland) in order to deliver this season’s bounty to a nation in crisis.

Leading the rally cry, the Chair of Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership's food board, Sarah Louise Fairburn, said: “A student land army can have a significant impact on the national effort to overcome the pandemic emergency and will give students a chance to earn an income while they're not studying.”

“The food sector in Greater Lincolnshire employs 56,000 people, produces a quarter of the country’s vegetables and is nationally important in keeping our nation fed. Because of travel restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus our farms are struggling to recruit the workers needed to bring in the harvest this year,” added Ms Fairburn.

Since we published our article in March about the 70,000 shortfall of workers on UK farms this year, it is now estimated that a further 10,000 extra seasonal fruit and veg pickers will be needed by the farming industry before the end of May.

In response, the National Farmers' Union (NFU) has also urged ‘young, fit’ students to consider signing up for seasonal work within the farming and food sectors during the pandemic.

Adding their weight to the initiative, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has called on students and other British workers to ‘dig deep’ and help the cause to ‘feed the nation’ by applying for jobs on UK farms.

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