Executive Briefings

After Brexit, Who Will Feed All These Chickens?

Following a drive through English farmland, past thatched-roof cottages and thick forests, chicken farmer Mark Gorton stops his Land Rover on a narrow lane to speak to a worker in a white truck.

"Dzien dobry!" Gorton cries in greeting as the gray-haired man stops to tell him in broken English that everything is fine at the farm ahead. "Do widzenia!" he says in farewell.

Gorton's business, two hours northeast of London, is 1,000 miles from Poland, but he's picked up a few words of Polish. That's because Eastern Europeans make up more than 60 percent of the 250 staff members who work for him at Traditional Norfolk Poultry. At a time when the U.K. is preparing to separate from the European Union and its free-migration rules, that's a worry.

Without his employees from Poland, Lithuania and beyond, Gorton says, he’d struggle to produce the more than 5 million chickens and turkeys he sells every year. Supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and restaurants run by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver snap up his free-range, organic birds. He says locals just don’t want the jobs he offers: feeding, inspecting and packaging poultry.

“People have got the wrong impression that they are over here taking people’s jobs, because they’re not,” he said, sitting in his modest office next to a 70,000 square-foot packaging factory. “It’s physical work, manual work, repetitive work. You can’t find local people to do it.”

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"Dzien dobry!" Gorton cries in greeting as the gray-haired man stops to tell him in broken English that everything is fine at the farm ahead. "Do widzenia!" he says in farewell.

Gorton's business, two hours northeast of London, is 1,000 miles from Poland, but he's picked up a few words of Polish. That's because Eastern Europeans make up more than 60 percent of the 250 staff members who work for him at Traditional Norfolk Poultry. At a time when the U.K. is preparing to separate from the European Union and its free-migration rules, that's a worry.

Without his employees from Poland, Lithuania and beyond, Gorton says, he’d struggle to produce the more than 5 million chickens and turkeys he sells every year. Supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and restaurants run by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver snap up his free-range, organic birds. He says locals just don’t want the jobs he offers: feeding, inspecting and packaging poultry.

“People have got the wrong impression that they are over here taking people’s jobs, because they’re not,” he said, sitting in his modest office next to a 70,000 square-foot packaging factory. “It’s physical work, manual work, repetitive work. You can’t find local people to do it.”

Read Full Article