HOPS has informed growers of its decision to not recruit seasonal labour for the 2021 season in light of current market conditions.
HOPS, which has been providing seasonal labour for more than 30 years, has said the uncertainty about what would happen with the Seasonal Agricultural Workers pilot scheme, Brexit and the impact of Covid-19 had all contributed to the decision.
Since the start of the Covid-19 restrictions in the UK, HOPS has been working tirelessly to ensure farms were given the labour they were promised. It was one of the first labour providers to launch a nationwide campaign to enlist help from a domestic workforce to help plug the gap from seasonal labour usually able to travel from overseas. The media campaign was featured across national newspapers and broadcast media, reaching millions of people and applications for roles was in excess of 50,000.
Throughout the pandemic, HOPS has helped reassure farms and continued to support teams that were due to arrive in the UK to work. The company has also been in regular contact with the Home Office, Defra, the NFU and other labour providers to highlight the problems for growers and to help find solutions. Unfortunately, the lack of certainty about trading in 2021 has forced HOPS into its current position.
HOPS will honour any remaining orders from farms in 2020 but then will cease supplying labour support from January 2021.
HOPS Chairman John Hardman said: “The pandemic has brought immense challenges to the HOPS’ team, and we have discussed at length the direction to take the business. With the lack of clarity in the sector, the Board and Shareholders will take the next few months to discuss the future direction of HOPS and what options are open to us.
“This was clearly a very difficult decision to make, but we did not want to make false promises and wanted to let our loyal customer base know our decision sooner rather than later.”