Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
853. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when his attention was first drawn to the fact that a company (details supplied) was bringing workers into Ireland; the actions taken as a result of this development at departmental level in view of Covid-19 with respect to public health advice; and the number of meetings and conference calls he held with his ministerial colleagues in this regard. [5841/20]
The sourcing of labour by employers in the agri-food sector is a matter for those employers themselves.
It is estimated that 6,600 are employed in the Horticulture industry, while a further 11,000 are employed in downstream businesses, with a small percentage of this total employment being seasonal labour. Sources of seasonal labour are multifaceted. Employers generally focus on their historical sources of labour both from the domestic labour market but also eastern Europe (Balkan and Baltic regions) which provides a valuable source of experience, skilled people from an agrarian background well prepared for the role.
In response to the Covid-19 situation, my Department has been working closely with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to ensure employers are aware of the supports for business to help them source labour from the domestic economy. A national recruitment campaign by my colleague, Regina Doherty, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection has commenced with the aim of recruiting temporary workers for the Horticulture sector from the live register within Ireland. This campaign will focus on the Fruit harvest peaking in mid-May to mid-June and the Vegetable harvest from mid-June.
Advice and guidance on travel requirements into the country is made fully available to prospective visitors on the official Government website, and is updated regularly.