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It is reported that the ‘vast majority’ of horticultural laborers are overseas workers – who have now returned home early or refused work in the UK – as the country aims to leave the European Union on October 31.
‘The biggest threat’
Blueberry and bean grower in Herefordshire, Chris Chinn, told the Guardian he had to walk away from half his potential crop this month because he only had half the workers he needed.
“The shortage of workers is the biggest threat to our business,” Chinn said. “Without staff to pick crops like beans, where we don’t have an automation option, then we cannot harvest them and they won’t be available on supermarket shelves.”
‘The impact of Brexit’
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) found there was an overall 18 percent shortfall in the number of agricultural workers in August, despite recruiting 25 percent more workers than usual.
“The shortage is driven by two things: government policy and the impact of Brexit,” said Ali Capper, the chair of the NFU’s horticultural board – who recently called on the government to expand its scheme allowing non-EU workers to enter the UK for six months of employment.