Farm workers have negotiated a 4.3% increase in pay despite warnings that a labour shortage could lead to a “full blown food crisis”.

The Agricultural Wages Board agreed a 4.3% increase for grade 2-6 farm workers, and an increase of 4% for entry level grade 1.

The increase takes grade 1 wages to 1p above the national minimum wage.

Bob Fiddamanm, AWB employers’ leader, said the NFU was “disappointed” with the outcome of the negotiations.

“Most other sectors have increased pay rates by 3%,” he said

“We just hope the industry can accommodate the increase, as with current price increases we could find businesses will be unprofitable and uncompetitive.”

Welcome increase

Skilled farm workers’ union Unite welcomed the increase, despite originally calling for a 6% pay rise across all grades.

However it said it was concerned the increase was too low to counter the growing problem of an aging workforce and many migrant workers returning home.

Chris Kaufman, Unites’ food and agriculture national secretary said: “The settlement barely keeps pace with inflation but employers have signalled their intent to finally tackle the historic scandal of low pay in agriculture and horticulture.

“We will continue to sound the alarm that food security is at severe risk at home and abroad as the skilled and unskilled labour shortages intensify,” he added.

Profit sharing

Speaking on FWiSpace forums, Mildred said farm managers should consider profit sharing to reward farm staff.

“Other ideas that should be the norm include days out to shows, regular time off and heating, fuel and council tax being paid,” she added. “these should be considered regardless of profit the farm is making.”

Forum user Bonehead said wages in the industry were not good but he understood that money from consumers was not passed onto his employers for them to increase wages.

“The reason I stay in agriculture is not because I was born into the industry or money, but because of my passion,” he said.

“If it was money alone I would have left long ago.”

* A you happy with the increase? Have your say on the FWi forums.