There is often no love lost between government ministers and members of the Commons Efra Committee, but the cross-party body’s latest inquiry and accompanying report arguably ranks as its most despairing of our leaders yet.

That report, titled labour shortages in the food and farming sector – and published on Wednesday – laid bare the litany of policy failures over which the government has presided, as concerns over a lack of migrant workers dating back half a decade snowballed into the now all-encompassing labour crisis that has convulsed the food sector.

Let’s be honest, after a furious committee chair Neil Parish laid into hapless immigration minister Kevin Foster at the inquiry’s evidence session in December, no one was expecting the committee to be supportive of this particular government policy.

That memorable rant by senior Tory Parish saw him condemn a dismissive Foster for not doing enough to tackle the labour crisis by allowing more foreign workers into the UK, as he lamented “our industry [is] slowly being destroyed”.

So it should come as no surprise that the Efra report echoed these frustrations, and then some.

Foster himself was criticised for disingenuous comments to the committee that suggested because there had been so few applications for emergency pork butcher visas by December, the pork sector’s crisis was somehow a mirage.

Instead, the visa was essentially unfit for purpose, the committee argued, as were the “seriously deficient” short-term visa schemes for poultry workers and HGV drivers.

They had been “implemented too late, with many workers unable to arrive in time to help the sector prepare for Christmas and avoid poultry businesses reducing production”, the report pointed out. Meanwhile, their short durations were simply not attractive to workers expected to up sticks from the Continent at very short notice – something numerous food sector bodies had warned of far in advance.

More generally, the committee said it was “frustrated by the reluctance of government to engage with the industry over labour shortages”, and “despite valiant attempts by the industry, ministers [had] failed to understand the issues and even sought to pass the blame on to the sector”.

In conclusion, it urged “government to have a radical rethink to prevent future interventions coming too late”, because a failure to engage on this issue would “shrink food sector permanently” and push up food prices even further.

Efra’s key recommendations were an overhaul of immigration rules that would, “at least in the short term, increase the overall supply of labour through revised immigration measures to address the current crisis” via mechanisms such as the shortage occupation list and a further expansion to the seasonal worker scheme.

It also called for a “step-change” improvement in how it engaged with industry and a government review of its actions, plus a revision of how it used data to inform decisions such as labour requirements – which it noted were often out of date.

More leeway would also be welcome in English language requirements for migrant workers, it added.

Perhaps understandably, the National Pig Association – which has been at the very frontline of the labour crisis in recent months – described Efra’s report as “wake-up call for government” that was both “thorough and insightful”.

“Ministers need to stop arguing that labour shortages are not a problem, stop deflecting blame on to the industry, and, as the report suggests, sit down with us to understand the problems and look at how we can work together to find solutions,” said NPA CEO Zoe Davies.

The NFU agreed, adding that “government needs to act urgently to give farmers and growers the confidence they need to invest in domestic production and enable British food and farming to thrive”.

But despite these calls, both organisations stressed they also supported a long-term reduction in the reliance of migrant labour. They just needed more time, they said.

Whether the government, and the Home Office in particular, listens to that call could be the difference between an end to this ongoing crisis or more days of woe for the food sector.