The British Growers Association has welcomed the Government’s initiative on seasonal labour in principle but points out that the pilot scheme falls well short of the numbers of workers required to sustain the fresh produce industry in Britain.
Jack Ward, Chief Executive of British Growers says: “We carried out a survey of growers in 2016 and this showed that British fresh produce growers need between 75,000 and 80,000 seasonal workers to operate successfully. This figure is anticipated to rise to between 85,000 and 90,000 by 2020.
“Government has been made aware of this figure in our discussions. This announcement is a step in the right direction, but the scale of the current shortfall in seasonal labour far exceeds the numbers involved in this latest scheme. It is also important that UK growers have access to seasonal labour 12 months of the year to cover the spread of crops grown in the UK. Without access to an adequate supply of seasonal labour there is a danger that we could be facing a real threat to the UK’s capacity to produce crops of fresh fruit and vegetables. Farms are already reporting staff shortages. We welcome the fact that the Government is addressing this issue, but the scheme needs to develop if we are to have a sustainable, successful fresh produce industry post-Brexit.”