Home Business News ‘Chronic’ shortage in crop pickers leaves vegetables rotting in farmers fields

‘Chronic’ shortage in crop pickers leaves vegetables rotting in farmers fields

by LLB staff reporter
5th Nov 21 11:28 am

The government are being urged to allow ten times more foreign workers into the UK as vegetables are left rotting in farmers fields due to a “chronic” shortage in crop pickers.

Government restrictions on allowing foreign workers into the UK are to blame as some farmers are short by “hundreds of people a day.”

Guy Moreton, CEO of MorePeople, who specialise in hiring food service supervisory and management roles, said the government’s restrictions on foreign workers are the cause of rotting vegetables in fields.

Speaking to Lincolnshire Live Moreton said, “We need five to ten times as many people as the Government is letting in at the moment.

“All of my clients, and I have hundreds of clients, are all short of people, with some of them hundreds of people a day short.

“It is an absolute disgrace that they are leaving perfectly good food in the fields because they can’t pick it. If they get it picked, they often can’t get it to the depot because of the chronic shortage of drivers.

“Food waste is a cardinal sin, to leave good quality food that costs money and resources to grow, to leave them in the field is horrendous.

“The Government’s lack of flexibility on this is appalling, I think they’ve got this wrong and they are not listening.”

Moreton added, “There is absolutely a major issue regarding hard-working, down-to-earth people who want to pick crops in the field and pack in packhouses.

“That’s not just in agriculturally related organisations but also prevalent across the whole of the food industry.

“Nearly every food client that we deal with that supplies supermarkets with food has a lack of hourly-paid workers in the factories.”

Moreton continued, “There is absolutely a major issue regarding hard-working, down-to-earth people who want to pick crops in the field and pack in packhouses.

“That’s not just in agriculturally related organisations but also prevalent across the whole of the food industry.

“Nearly every food client that we deal with that supplies supermarkets with food has a lack of hourly-paid workers in the factories.”

Also the pandemic has not helped the situation as this is another reason for the shortage of foreign workers.

He said, “Covid hasn’t helped because a lot of Eastern European workers went home and don’t want to come back to the UK and that’s mainly because of travel restrictions.”

The National Farmer’s Union’s county adviser for the south of Lincolnshire, Jo Musson warned that “this is a perfect storm of labour supply issues.

“Our growers are producing high-quality vegetables, salad, flowers and plants for sale all over the country.

“But because of the severe shortage of workers, we’re seeing crops left to rot in fields and not enough people to wash, pack and transport them to retailers.”

A Government spokesperson said: “The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain – which has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges.

“We have expanded the seasonal workers pilot to 30,000 visas for workers to come to the UK for up to six months, and continue to work closely with industry to understand labour demand and supply, including both permanent and seasonal workforce requirements.

“But we also want employers to make long-term investments in the UK domestic workforce, and our Plan for Jobs is helping people across the country retrain, build new skills and get back into work.”

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