Fruit and veg growers say Brexit could stump homegrown UK produce
British fruit and veg producers call for establishment of a new permit scheme for seasonal workers from abroad
4 August 2016
With foreign workers picking virtually all of Britain’s fresh produce, some of the country’s biggest producers have warned in a Guardian report, that a British exit from the EU could see homegrown fruit and veg almost disappear entirely from shelves.
If freedom of movement for EU workers ends, producers say it could have a damaging impact on the nation’s food security. They are subsequently urging ministers to set up a new permit scheme for seasonal workers.
The Guardian reports that around 90% of British fruit, vegetables and salads are picked, graded and packed by 60,000 to 70,000 workers from overseas, the majority from eastern Europe. Many work in areas that strongly voted to leave the EU, such as the largely agricultural borough of Boston in Lincolnshire, which at 75%, had the highest vote for leaving the EU across the entire country.
John Shropshire, chairman of G’s, one of the UK’s biggest producers of salads and vegetables, which employs 2,500 seasonal workers and has a number of farms in other countries, said the homegrown industry could potentially shut down without EU freedom of movement.
“No British person wants a seasonal job working in the fields,” Shropshire said. “They want permanent jobs or jobs that are not quite as taxing physically.”