Some growers claim that Brexit has caused a “massive hole” in the numbers of people coming to the UK to pick fruit in the summer months. According to some, this is putting growers on the brink.
For instance, the number of seasonal workers applying to work at one Kent-based company are down 90% in the last two years and there are fears for the future. Stephen Taylor, managing director of Winterwood Farms Ltd near Maidstone, said the labor market has gotten ‘tighter and tighter’ over the last couple of years. He said the impact of Brexit on the flow of workers to UK farms is only getting worse.
A spokesperson from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the Government will “always back our farmers and growers” and ensure producers across the UK have the support and workforce that they need.
However, Mr Taylor said: “95 per cent of all fruit and produce picked and packaged in this country is done by eastern Europeans. From the end of June, people who haven’t got pre-settled status, at least, can’t work. We are not talking about a few tens of thousands, we are talking hundreds of thousands of people less to work in the UK. That’s a massive hole”.