Dairy farmers are being forced to throw away milk because of lorry drivers shortages amid stark warnings of an imminent supply chain collapse.
The lack of drivers is “very concerning” – and urgent action is needed to prevent more severe issues with food deliveries, according to the National Farmers’ Union.
An NFU spokesperson told The Independent some farms are “really struggling” and “people are having to either cut back on production or throw produce away.”
Milk and More, a UK-wide milk delivery service, halted deliveries for some customers, saying they have experienced both a shortage of workers and a lack of drivers.
‘Potential milk shortage on shelves’
One dairy logistics company told the NFU they have been unable to find workers for the first time in 27 years.
“In the next few weeks and months there could be a collapse of parts of the supply chain with a consequential disruption to the supply of milk on retailer shelves,” the firm told the Independent.
And Stafford dairy farmer Henry Bloxham told the BBC that the firm he supplies to told him to throw his milk away.
He said his costs are “rising all the time” and warned there will not be any milk on the shelves without price increases this winter.
Despite the shortages, the government has rejected requests to allow temporary work visas for jobs such as lorry driving and fruit picking.
Around 100,000 truck drivers, previously made up primarily of Eastern Europeans, have quit the UK, leaving the government scrambling to fill post-Brexit vacancies.
‘No foreign labour’
Although transport minister Grant Shapps admitted the road freight sector faces “historic shortages”, he insisted: “I do not support using foreign labour to tackle a long-standing issue in the haulage industry.”
Shapps said leaving the European Union has provided the UK with the “opportunity to introduce a new immigration system while building a more resilient domestic workforce”.
Among measures the government did take to tackle the shortages are the relaxation of Covid tests for lorry drivers, as well as a “temporary extension” of drivers’ working hours.
Both measures have sparked fears over the safety of UK roads, but were hailed as a benefit from “increased post-Brexit sovereignty”, according to The Independent.
56 per cent of Britons have now noticed food shortages in their local shops or supermarkets, with over-50s being most aware of empty shelves.