U.K. Boosts Efforts to Bring in Crucial Seasonal Farm Workers

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The U.K. is stepping up a program to bring in key overseas farm workers next year to stop fruit and vegetables from going unpicked in fields.

The government will triple visas for seasonal workers to 30,000 next year, it said in a statement. There were labor shortfalls at some farms in recent years in the run up to Brexit, with the sector reliant on workers from the European Union to harvest crops from lettuce to berries. The Covid-19 crisis exacerbated the problem, curbing the ability of workers to travel to the U.K.

That led to British growers warning that they may not have enough workers to pick crops next year.

“While we welcome the government’s move to recognize solutions for the labor issues faced by the industry, it is too early to say whether this will be enough,” said Nick Marston, chairman of British Summer Fruits, which represents the British berry industry. “We will get a clearer picture by April when farms take account of their recruitment planning for the season.”

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