The campaign, which launched at the end of July, includes a televison and online advert featuring workers apparently housed in a shipping container being woken up and driven to a typical British maize field, under the slogan "Slavery is closer than you think". NFU South East regional director William White said at last week's National Fruit Show: "It portrays growers in a dodgy light, but only three per cent of the 2,500 referrals to the Home Office have related to agriculture. We are one of the better industries."
However, a Home Office fact sheet accompanying the campaign put agriculture's share of potential forced labour victims referred to services last year at 10 per cent, with a further eight per cent from food processing.
It urges growers to look out for tell-tale signs of forced labour, including identity documents being held collectively, shared pay details and the workers' general appearance and demeanour.
Growers should also check that the labour suppliers are registered with the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, whose helpline number for any further information is 0845 602 5020.