Since the start of the season, British farmers have had to throw out nearly 150 tons of lettuce due to a labor shortage. That is why they are trying to hire seasonal workers from Central Asia.
“Nearly 30 per cent of this year’s crop was wasted,” said Nicholas Utley, director of the largest salad producer in Kent County.
Eastern European workers who picked lettuce on this farm did not return after Brexit. Therefore, the owners have to look for labor from Central Asia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. At the moment, they could not make the work attractive to the British.
“There is an effort to get the British here, we tried really hard, but they didn’t come. We’ve been in touch with the Maidstone Job Center for four years, but no one has come here yet. So let’s all leave because the hat is not worth a sigh of relief,” said Nicholas. Utley.
One of the UK’s largest vegetable growers in South Sussex also faces a tough battle.
“It was difficult to find a job this year because people applied late for the seasonal workers program,” said Julian Marks, the farm president.
The seasonal work programme, which gave visas to agricultural workers for a short period, gave British farmers the opportunity to invite 30,000 immigrants into the country and an additional 10,000 if needed. The government does not yet allow the hiring of additional workers. However, farmers say they need to act before it is too late.
“Last year alone, 600 tons were harvested on this one farm,” said Euronews correspondent Luke Hanrahan. “This year it is almost as hard to find employment as last year. Farmers say if more seasonal workers are not allowed to remove this broccoli, for example, such land will cease to exist in the UK.”
“It takes at least three weeks for someone to get someone, put their papers in order, and even come here. The crop is not waiting for anyone. It only grows and cannot be sold in the country after one point and has been dumped.” Julian Marx explained.
The British government says it is aware of the farm labor shortage and has extended the seasonal workers program until 2024. He added that it was working to make the area more attractive to British workers as well.
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