The 'blind spot' of agricultural research: Labour flexibility, composition and worker availability in the South West of England
Agriculture in the UK faces a number of long-term challenges as the global marketplace continues to expand, world population grows, and an increasing pressure is exerted upon natural resources. It needs to ensure its place as a competitive, resilient, and environmentally sustainable industry both locally and in the global arena. A key constraint which ties in with all of the above is the availability of labour. Both governmental departments in their statistical analyses of agriculture in the
... riculture in the country, as well as academic research, largely ignore the existence of certain actors performing farm labour who are not the farmer, particularly agricultural contractors, and as a result, have missed the emergence of significant patterns occurring within the farm workforce. Accuracy of data concerning labour use in agriculture has, therefore, been extremely limited. This paper identifies the composition of labour on farm holdings in the South West of England today and recognises the increasing prevalence of flexible labour sources. It determines both current and anticipated future staffing needs of the holdings studied, which provides an indicator as to the gravity of agriculture's labour crisis in the South West.