Scottish fruit farmers warn that crops could be left unpicked

MPs claim British producers are ‘at bottom of government’s priorities list’

A cross-party group of Scottish MPs has condemned the UK government’s approach to the Seasonal Workers Pilot (SWP) scheme, pointing to the risk recruitment delays now pose to this year’s crops.

The government only announced the final two of four operators for the scheme earlier this month, leading the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee to warn of the tight timeframe left for operators to recruit labor overseas.

According to, EFRA said it had warned the government in December of the huge consequence of keeping plans for seasonal labor vague, and the issue was raised again in April by local growers who claimed the government was sabotaging the scheme.

EFRA committee chair Neil Parish MP said: “British growers have been placed at the bottom of the Home Office’s priorities list, and the unnecessary uncertainty could prove costly for producers. Despite last year’s ‘Pick for Britain’ pilot scheme, our report made it clear that overseas labor is still very much needed, and the Government’s efforts to recruit more domestic labor cannot hope to be sufficient for this summer’s harvest.”

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