Call for authority to be 'more pro-active' in…

Call for authority to be 'more pro-active' in supporting agricultural businesses

MORE needs to be done to support local agricultural businesses and farms during the pandemic – one Councillor has claimed.

Members of West Yorkshire Combined Authority discussed what was being done to support the region’s businesses through the pandemic at a meeting yesterday.

Many businesses were being given grants, and people who have been made redundant or furloughed were being offered training to get back to work.

Over £400 million worth of grants had been handed to 33,000 businesses in West Yorkshire.

But Leeds Cllr Stewart Golton (Lib Dem, Rothwell) said agricultural businesses seemed to have been overlooked.

Charles records video message in support of Pick For Britain campaign

The industry was seasonal, making it important that these businesses were supported sooner rather than later, and Cllr Golton said he had heard some farms were having to dump crops because they were not being bought by suppliers.

He added: “It is not something we kick into the long grass.

“The availability of labour is also a major issue. The Pick for Britain campaign seems to be completely elective and web based. It relies on farmers registering for the system.

“I have spoken to Leeds City Council and they don’t seem to have been informed about the pressures agri-businesses face.

“It would be really useful if we could be a little bit more pro-active.”

Pick For Britain is a campaign to link up farms with people looking for work, and was set up to ensure farms are able to continue producing food despite the current pandemic.

Director of Economic Services Brian Archer said: Sourcing labour and fruit pickers can be a big challenge. That is something we can look to move forward.

“We could speak to larger businesses that are making people redundant and see if we can re-deploy their staff. These workers could be used by farms on an interim basis.”