Things you can do to help manage dairy industry labour shortages

milk parlour

The NFU and the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) have teamed up to provide advice about the problems caused by a lack of labour in the food supply chain.

Haulage, processing, packing and hospitality are all areas of concern, with driver shortages being particularly acute.

Both organisations are asking their members to be mindful of these pressures, and to help play their part in managing the situation in the best possible way.

Michael Oakes, NFU dairy board chair, pictured above, said:

"The current labour shortages in the UK are affecting many parts of the food supply chain. The dairy industry has come under a similar pressure with a shortage of drivers, factory workers and farm staff. At this time of need, we must all do our bit to help try and ease the situation, so we are asking our members to play their part. This is especially crucial for milk tanker drivers, who are a vital part of our supply chain. Therefore, we have issued some top tips for ways farmers can make the lives of our tanker drivers easier while on farm.”

Peter Alvis, RABDF chair said:

“For the dairy industry, we understand in some cases that this has meant non-collection or delayed collections of milk. If this situation gets worse, it could create big problems for the dairy supply chain and potentially see wastage of milk as well as added cost and impacts on milk prices. Due to the labour shortage, the tanker drivers coming to your farm may be under a lot of time pressure or may not necessarily have visited your farm before. Therefore, any delays could interrupt the dairy supply chain.”

Ways you can help during milk collection

There are a few ways you can help assist tanker drivers who are under increased pressure, and who may not have visited your farm before, to ensure a smooth and efficient collection process on farm.


Install simple signage indicating any one-way systems, where to pull in and out of the yard, the collection point situation or other key farm landmarks.

A tidy yard

Ensuring access and turning points and passageways are free of machinery, vehicles or other debris, leaving plenty of room. Some drivers may not be as experienced as your regular driver.

Minimising unnecessary distractions

Allowing the driver to collect milk without distractions, loose dogs or other potential delays, where possible.

Preparation and facilities

Ensure facilities are available for the driver and make sure family or staff on the farm are also aware of the procedures. Make sure the milk is ready for collection on time.

Offer support

Ask the driver if they require help if they appear to be struggling, particularly new recruits.

Tell your MP

You can also write to your MP using this link to set out how labour shortages in the wider supply chain have been impacting your business. You may also wish to set out the effects of any on farm labour shortages you are experiencing since the end of free movement in order to help amplify the messages the NFU is feeding into government on labour needs for production and supply chain.

Last edited: 12:13 on 12 July 2021

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