Brexit has caused farming's labour crisis which is resulting in a shortage of chicken for corporations including Nandos and KFC - and is threatening the supply of Christmas turkeys.

That's the message from the British Poultry Council.

The council says that there is an average vacancy rate of 16 per cent across the agricultural community.

Chief executive, Richard Griffiths, said: “Members are telling us that many have been forced to cut back weekly chicken production by 5-10 per cent, all year-round turkey production by 10 per cent and estimate Christmas turkey production to be cut down by 20 per cent.

"They are saying they are currently producing a reduced range of products for UK customers, and are seriously concerned that the supply of staple chicken products will be impacted.

"This is all down to labour shortages.

"When the heads of major food companies, and indeed entire food sectors, stand up and say we are in the worst position they have ever seen, then it is beholden on our government to fix this catastrophic debacle of their making.

"If that means relaxing immigration rules or accepting regulatory alignment with the EU, then these are the steps that must be taken to put British food on the road to recovery.”

As a sector that produces half of the meat eaten in this country, the British poultry meat industry is calling on the government to:

  • Include poultry meat supply chain workers on the ‘skilled worker list’ and ‘shortage occupation list’ and reduce unnecessary thresholds on salaries and skills
  • Extend the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme to the poultry meat sector (agriculture and processing), to protect seasonal demand for poultry meat and Christmas turkeys
  • Ensure vital food production is at the core of skills and education programmes such as the Lifetime Skills Guarantee and the Apprenticeship Levy to improve the appeal of the sector to build a UK workforce
  • Urgently conduct the first food security survey as required of them in the new Agriculture Bill