Help Feed the UK! Lincolnshire is the food capital of the UK producing 1/8th of England's food. We have a key role to play in helping to keep food flowing. Farms, food processors, distribution, and retail businesses, all need extra staff.

Lincolnshire’s economy is the food capital of the UK, producing 1/8th of England’s food. and now more than ever during the Covid-19 crisis, has a key role to play in helping to keep food in our shops.

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Chairman of Greater Lincolnshire Food Board and director of Greater Lincolnshire LEP Sarah Louise Fairburn said:

"the last month has seen unprecedented demand for food in our supermarkets and I have seen this at first hand in our business, Fairburn Eggs.  I am really proud of how Lincolnshire businesses have responded in helping to keep food on the nation’s shelves.

However, we cannot be complacent because many of our food chain businesses need extra staff now to manage the increased demand.  In Lincolnshire we are also the centre of the UK fresh produce sector and as the peak harvest period for salads and vegetables approaches we need even more staff."

Many of our food companies are looking for extra staff, from farms, to food processors, distribution and retail and are collaborating in solutions to keep the nation fed through this difficult time.

A number of schemes have been set up to help get more staff into the food chain, with rapid application processes, usually with an online interview and then quick placement in a job.

#Student Land Army campaign

We are working with DEFRA to promote the Pick for Britain national scheme and have been included as a partner as endorsement of our #StudentLandArmy campaign. Developed in response to the imminent labour need to bring in the UK harvest, this has been endorsed by both Prince Charles and DEFRA and we have been added to the national Pick for Britain scheme as a partner.  This campaign follows on-going conversations with the food and farming sectors in response to expected gaps in labour from June onwards coinciding with the furloughed scheme transitioning, and the main picking season in Lincolnshire beginning. As well as raising awareness amongst the targeted workforce, the site urgently needs employers to upload their vacancies.  The DWP offers a wide reaching advertising portal for you to do so and a simple guidance notes have been produced to assist you to use this free tool. Click here to find out how.

Farming and food employers are now urgently encouraged to register and upload their requirements to capture the huge interest generated.

Prince Charles adds his endorsement to Pick for Britain and the #StudentLandArmy .. click here

The DEFRA blog is reporting widespread coverage on the opportunities for students and furloughed workers to apply for seasonal farm work, following a video address from the Prince of Wales and statement from the Environment Secretary. Click here to read.

National schemes which are recruiting to jobs in the food industry include:

  • Feed the Nation  which has direct links to Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsburys, Ocado and Staffline, as well as major local employers including 2 Sisters Food Group, Karro and Tulip, with tens of thousands of jobs available now
  • DEFRA's Pick for Britain website is live and offers information on how to apply to a number of farm vacancies.  This urgently needs Lincolnshire farmers and agricultural businesses to register their requirements as the Lincolnshire area is currently very sparse.  The website does not yet reflect the 80,000 seasonal jobs needed across the sector for harvest work and we would encourage Lincolnshire businesses to ensure your harvest vacancies are on this site both to attract staff and so that the industry and government have a true picture of how many staff are needed

Also supporting the Feed the Nation campaign is Deliver to the Nation scheme:

  • Deliver to the Nation supporting the increased requirement for logistics and vehicles primarily in the food chain

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) have also set up a matching service to link companies with logistics capacity to those needing more.  It has details of thousands of vehicles and drivers who can move goods. 

  • DEFRA has launched a new £10m fund to support the fishing and aquaculture sector during the Covid-19 crisis, including help to assist with developing new local UK markets for products such as Hake, Scallops and Crabs which are normally sold primarily in food service and through the export trade.  
  • The dairy industry will also be supported to work together through Dairy UK and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) to identify spare processing capacity, how to stimulate demand and how production could be temporarily reduced.  The aim is to try to address the problems with oversupply, such as the closure of food service, which have led to wasted milk and lower prices for many dairy farmers.  

This section will be regularly updated to provide links to all these schemes, as well as links to local recruitment consultants and food chain companies who need extra staff.  Also look out for our twitter and LInkedin campaigns and share widely with your networks

Key Worker Testing

All key (essential) workers and their households can now apply online for a Covid-19 test if they or any of their family have symptoms.  Visit here for guidance.

This includes those working in the food chain and allows one of the main reasons companies are reporting staff absences to be addressed.  Essential workers include:

  • Critical personnel in the production and distribution of food, drink and essential goods, including:
    • Those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery
    • Those critical to the provision of other essential goods, such as medical supply chain and distribution workers, including veterinary medicine
    • Workers critical to the continuity of essential movement of goods

How to book a test

The county has a static testing site and mobile units that visit various locations based on booked demand. After booking a test online, you will be offered a test appointment at your nearest available centre (or a home test kit if appropriate).  Please do not arrive at a test centre without an appointment as priority is given to the high numbers of people who have booked a test, meaning you are unlikely to be seen. Click here to book a test.

After testing        

If your test result is negative, you can safely return to work, as long as:

  • you are well enough
  • you have not had a high temperature for 48 hours
  • anyone you live with also tests negative

If your test result is positive, or someone you live with tests positive, you cannot return to work. You’ll need to continue to self-isolate. Read NHS advice about how long to self-isolate.

Furloughed Staff

We are pleased to confirm that the updated guidance which has been issued on furloughed staff does now facilitate these staff working in the food chain, even whilst furloughed by another employer. The key requirement to use this provision is that the original employer must agree to their staff working for another employer whilst on furlough.We would urge companies whose furloughed staff may have the skills needed by other companies to make this flexibility available to support the food supply chains.

The furlough scheme has now been extended until the end of October, but the government will ask companies to "start sharing" the cost of the scheme from August.

Shared vehicle transportation

With regards to shared vehicle occupancy to and from a place of work, we have received the following updated guidance from Lincolnshire Police:

In general, multiple occupancy vehicles taking people to and from work should be permitted to continue their journey without being impeded.

An offence is only committed if the gathering is without reasonable excuse (regulation 9(1)(a) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020/350 ).  One of the stated exceptions is where “the gathering is essential for work purposes”. Travelling to or from work is essential for a work purpose and with reductions in public transport multiple persons travelling in the same car may be the only reasonable solution to the problem of getting to and from work.  As an example, where three employees are travelling in the same car but live separately, they would be in breach of the regulations unless they can show that their gathering in the car on the road is essential for work purposes.

A key worker letter and other evidence that confirms the particular individual has no other reasonable means of getting to work should be made available and carried by the worker on transits to and from work.

GOV.UK guidance has also offered additional guidance for minibus usage for people working in the outdoors here.

The DEFRA Access to Labour team are also developing a Best Practise Guide in conjunction with PHE for seasonal workers, transportation, accommodation and other related areas.  This is in conjunction with the National Farmers Union, The Association of Labour Providers, AHDB, and G’s Fresh and should be available imminently.


Page updated 19th May 2020