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Farmers added to critical workers list, following NPA lobbying

20th Mar 2020 / By Alistair Driver

Farming has been added to the critical workers list, following lobbying from the NPA, NFU and other organisations. 

In the latest guidance, published today, the list of occupations defined as 'critical' to the country's ongoing response to coronavirus, meaning their children should be able to attend school, college or childcare provision, has been expanded. 

The list now includes 'food and other necessary goods'. This includes those involved in food production (including farmers), processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygiene and veterinary medicines).

The full list is: 

  • Health and social care
  • Education and childcare
  • Key public services, including those involved in the justice system, religious staff, charities and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
  • Local and national government
  • Food and other necessary goods
  • Public safety and national security, including police, Ministry of Defence civilians, armed forces personnel, fire service, border security and prison servives
  • Transport
  • Utilities, communication and financial services.

The guidance states that workers in these professions will have the option of sending their children to school from next week, when most children will be at home.

It states: "If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed (listed above), and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision."

UPDATE: Key worker proof

The NPA has already received inquries from members about the announcement.

"For members that have children of a school age, or staff that do, we understand some schools have asked for proof that farmers or people that work in food production are classed as a key worker," NPA senior policy adviser Rebecca Veale said. 

The following links to the Government website include the information to clarify this,

Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision

This Government webpage details the guidance for schools, following the intro there is a list of the different sectors for which childcare provision will be provided.

This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygiene and veterinary medicines).

Farmers are not mentioned by name here but they are on the following page:

Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers

This is the Government webpage with information for parents and carers, the information about critical workers are point 4 and farmers are mentioned specifically in point 4.1.

4.1 Will I be counted as a critical worker?

Critical workers include NHS staff, police, farmers and food retail workers, who need to be able to go out to work.

It only has to be one parent that works in a key worker role, Rebecca added. 

If any member is experiencing issues with regard to this then please contact the team ().

NPA lobbying

The NPA has been working hard on this issue over the past few days, as part of an industry working group, including the NFU, calling on Government to get farmers and people working across the supply chain, including on farms, in processing plants, vets and in feed production, added to the list. 

During the first ever Pig Industry Group meeting, producers and representatives from across the allied industries identified potential staff shortages as the industry’s biggest concern over coronavirus.

“In order to allow pigs to be looked after on farm, taken to abattoirs, or processed, we need staff,” NPA chairman Richard Lister said.

“Agriculture and food production are critical to the country. Other EU member states, for instance the Netherlands, have declared food production as a priority industry. The NPA is pushing Government for food production to be considered a priority industry.”