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Without rights for farm workers, EU's food supplies are at risk

9 14 49

European Union institutions and national governments are scrambling to address the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for European farming, vowing that food supplies will not be affected. Procedures for accessing the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies are being relaxed and funds are being pumped into the sector to keep farmers and businesses afloat.

Meanwhile, farming associations have sounded the alarm about large labour shortages, highlighting the fact that, whatever Europe's populists claim, our farming depends to a large extent on migrant labour.

Lockdowns across the EU mean that seasonal workers from Central and Eastern EU states cannot travel, although Germany has allowed them to do so to salvage the spring produce. Those from outside the EU also cannot get in, although exemptions to the EU travel ban were hastily broadened last week to include seasonal labourers.

In their quest to guarantee food supplies without fixing a broken system, however, policymakers appear not to be focusing on the people picking our fruit and vegetables, packing and processing our food, and transporting it across Europe.

In fact, calls to cut red tape and to suspend reporting requirements will probably make working conditions even worse. Replacing migrant workers with........

© Al Jazeera