Farming and food production added to critical workers list

Food production, including farming, has been added to the critical list of workers who can send their children to school from next week.

The move following lobbying from industry organisations, including the NFU and National Pig Association, which argued that farmers and the entire food chain are critical to the country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

In the latest guidance, published today, the list of occupations defined as ‘critical’, meaning their children should be able to attend school, college or childcare provision, with ‘food and other necessary goods’ one of a number of new additions.

This category includes those involved in food production (including farmers), processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

The full list is:

  • Health and social care
  • Education and childcare
  • Key public services, including those involved in the justice system, religious staff, charities and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
  • Local and national government
  • Food and other necessary goods
  • Public safety and national security, including police, Ministry of Defence civilians, armed forces personnel, fire service, border security and prison servives
  • Transport
  • Utilities, communication and financial services.

The guidance states that workers in these professions will have the option of sending their children to school from next week, when most children will be at home.

It states: “If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed (listed above), and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision.”

You can view the guidance here

The NFU, NPA and others have been part of a working group calling on Government to get farmers and people working across the food supply chain added to the list.

During the first ever NPA Pig Industry Group meeting this, producers and representatives from across the allied industries identified potential staff shortages as the industry’s biggest concern over coronavirus.

“In order to allow pigs to be looked after on farm, taken to abattoirs, or processed, we need staff,” NPA chairman Richard Lister said.

“Agriculture and food production are critical to the country. Other EU member states, for instance the Netherlands, have declared food production as a priority industry. The NPA is pushing Government for food production to be considered a priority industry.”

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