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Labour issues could lead to food shortage during Covid-19

Farmers in mainland Europe have warned the public of a potential food shortage during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The farms are struggling to recruit enough farm labour to fulfil their necessary tasks as a result of the virus.

Barrier to travel

One of the main reasons for the lack of labour is the travel restrictions that have been out in place. Many seasonal workers that travel across the world for farm work are unable to do so this year.

Farmers across Europe fear that their crop won’t be picked at all and that those that are picked, may not make it to the supermarket shelves due to transport issues.

France expects a deficit of 200,000 agricultural workers this year. Coldiretti, an association of Italian farmers, predicts there will be 100,000 less foreign labourers. Germany typically has 30,000 migrant farmworkers in March and 80,000 by May. This year, only a fraction of that number have shown up, according to Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner.

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Cry for help

“The labour situation along the entire food supply chain is under immense strain,” Kloeckner told reporters in Berlin. “The number of workers from neighbouring countries is falling fast.”

Austrian Labor Minister, Christine Aschbacher, said: “I’m calling above all on young people not currently working and who don’t have children or grandparents to look after. We need every helping hand.”

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