Scottish broccoli unharvested due to lack of workers

A vegetable grower in Scotland estimates that he lost between £30,000 and £50,000 last year because he could not find workers to pick his crops. James Orr grows broccoli, cauliflowers, potatoes, carrots and parsnips near St Andrews, in Fife. During the peak months between August and November he needs at least 30 temporary workers. He told the Sunday Herald newspaper; “I had 15 per cent fewer people from Bulgaria and Romania than I would have liked. We simply couldn’t harvest everything and as a result we left produce in the field to rot.”

Mr Orr’s farm normally supplies over 1,000 tonnes of broccoli but he now has to make the difficult decision as to how much crop to plant this year, “not knowing whether we’re going to have enough hands to harvest it.”

NFU Scotland’s President, Andrew McCornick said: “This year there has been a shortage of between 10 and 20 per cent of seasonal workers coming from the EU. To tackle this, it is essential that we have a UK Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Scheme in place for this year”.

A spokeswoman from DEFRA said: “We recognise securing a strong agricultural workforce is crucial as we develop a new approach to farming outside the EU. The Government has commissioned advice from the Migration Advisory Committee to better understand reliance on EU immigrant workers across the wider economy and we will work closely with our food and farming industry to consider their specific needs”.