British Fruit, Vegetable Supplies at Risk Next Year, Union Warns

British farmers warned that they may not have enough workers to pick crops next year, further risking fresh-food shortages amid potential port delays and tariffs once the Brexit transition period ends.

The National Farmers Union urged the government to provide better guidance on hiring crucial seasonal workers from abroad amid concerns about the freedom of movement for those recruited to plant and harvest produce. There already has been a labor shortfall for fruit and vegetable farms in recent years, putting domestic supplies increasingly at risk, NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw said in a statement.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem, with stricter border controls limiting the ability of workers to travel to the U.K. Even with an industry campaign to rally furloughed Brits to undertake seasonal work on farms, locals only accounted for about a 10th of this year’s workforce, the NFU said. The Covid-19 crisis helped push labor costs for horticultural businesses up by 15%.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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