Action needed to avert harvest crisis

Farming | Published:

Last year 98 per cent of harvest staff were from outside the UK.

Nicholas Marston is chairman of British Summer Fruits.

We are now very concerned about securing enough workers to help harvest our vital crops and get fresh fruit and vegetables to the public.

The berry industry will be mounting a large-scale recruitment campaign to encourage people who are in the UK and looking for work because of the current economic impact of the coronavirus to come and work on our farms.

We need the government to classify food supply chain workers as essential workers. This would mean that our supply chain including harvest and packhouse staff on our farms, would be protected. Without these critical workers we will not be able to get our fresh fruit and vegetables from the farm to the shops.

We need the government to give us clarity on whether workers we have already recruited from overseas can travel to the UK to work. For example, workers hired to pick our fruit from Romania need to be able to travel to the UK.

Finally we want the British government to work with us to encourage workers who are already resident in the UK and looking for work and may have been employed in sectors such as hospitality, to consider seasonal work on our UK berry farms.

Nick Marston, chairman of British Summer Fruits

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