From panic to business as usual: What coronavirus has revealed about migrant labour, agri-food systems and industrial relations in the Nordic countries
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionSociologia Ruralis. 2023, . 10.1111/soru.12443
This article focuses on migrant labour in Nordic agriculture, wild berry picking and food processing. The starting point is the fear of a food crisis at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic (2020) because of the absence of migrant workers. The question was raised early in the pandemic if food systems in the Global North are vulnerable due to dependence on precarious migrant workers. In the light of this question, we assess the reactions of farmers and different actors in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to what looked like an unfolding food crisis. In many ways, the reactions in the Nordic countries were similar to each other, and to broader reactions in the Global North, and we follow these reactions as they relate to migrant workers from an initial panic to a return to business as usual despite the continuation of the pandemic. In the end, 2020 proved to be an excellent year for Nordic food production in part because migrant workers were able to come. We discuss reasons why the Nordic countries did not face disruptions during the pandemic, map out patterns of labour precarity and segmentation for migrant labour in agriculture and food production in the Nordic countries and propose questions for further research.