The most recent ‘NFU Labour survey’ reported an enormous 29% shortfall in seasonal farm labour in September 2017.
This was followed by the ‘English Apples and Pears Andersons report on labour requirements for UK Orchard Crops’ which also identified the serious labour shortage issues.
As a result, Phil Acock (Chairman of English Apples and Pears – the representative body for the English Top Fruit industry) and Carmella Meyer (Director at EAP) took a trip to Westminster and met, recently, with Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent in order to discuss the urgent need for a SAWS (Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme) debate.
Helen Whately acknowledged that the Top Fruit industry is likely to face an even greater challenge in 2018 and beyond and asked for strong messages of support for SAWS from UK supermarkets, stating: “English apples, pears, berries and cherries are the best in the world. I feel lucky to have, not only among Britain’s best – but the world’s best – fruit farms in my constituency. British fruit has been a success story in recent years, a good thing for the economy and for our health. But the business is getting tougher, particularly recruiting seasonal workers. As chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for fruit and vegetable growers, I’m campaigning for a seasonal agricultural workers scheme. That will enable our growers to compete fairly with competitors in the EU, and make sure they have the workers they need to continue producing fabulous British fruit and veg.”
Phil Acock commented: ‘If we are to continue to harvest the great British fruit that everyone loves we urgently need the support of MPs like Helen Whately to table the SAWS debate’.
To provide Helen Whately with the information necessary for a Parliamentary Debate, EAP is calling for all Growers to submit their evidence of 2017 labour shortages to firstname.lastname@example.org before the end of February 2018. They are also calling for all farmers affected to urgently lobby their local MPs for the now-critical SAWS debate.