Fruit and vegetables worth 22 million pounds ($27 million) have been wasted in the UK was due to a lack of workers to harvest them, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said on Monday.
According to the NFU’s survey, which involved 199 producers hiring 22,000 employers, four out of ten respondents said that the lack of workers led to a loss of harvest, 56% reported a decrease in production, while 17% of the hired employees did not show up at work, and 9% quit ahead of schedule.
The Times newspaper reported that the situation could lead to a shortage in stores, since farmers had already suffered losses due to Brexit, the conflict in Ukraine, rising prices and abnormal heat in the country.
The UK agricultural sector needs 70,000 seasonal workers to harvest in full, while the authorities have provided only 40,000 working visas, so farmers are calling for better working conditions and a change in the rules for seasonal workers, including simplifying the procedure for obtaining entry permits, the newspaper added.
In a referendum in June 2016, 52% of UK citizens voted in favor of leaving the European Union. On January 31, 2020, the country left the EU after 47 years of membership. After the end of the transition period, on January 1, 2021, new migration rules went into effect, making it harder for low-skilled foreigners to obtain a long-term working visa.
The new policy has raised concerns among the business community, which says that new restrictions can negatively affect industries that rely on low-skilled labor.