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15 February 2018 14:32:36 |Crops and Cereals,Government,News

Scottish horticultural sector urges new worker scheme as crops go 'unpicked'

Seasonal worker survey has highlighted the Scottish horticultural industry concern over the future

Seasonal worker survey has highlighted the Scottish horticultural industry concern over the future

A survey of Scotland’s horticultural sector has highlighted the urgent need for a new seasonal worker scheme to be put in place for 2018.
In 2017, shortfalls in recruiting seasonal workers to pick soft fruit or veg saw some Scottish crops go unpicked.
NFU Scotland's survey has highlighted that, without a UK scheme to address the issue, Scottish production of these high value crops could decrease.
More than 30 specialist growers responded to the survey, accounting for most of the soft fruit and vegetables grown in Scotland.
The union will be in Westminster later this month to raise the subject again with the Home Office and, at the same time, a wider paper on immigration and Scottish food and farming’s labour requirements post-Brexit will be issued.
'Barely a punnet'

Scotland’s soft fruit and veg sectors is seen as a success story, recording year on year growth and generating more than £300 million in income – 10 percent of Scottish farm production.
The union’s Political Affairs Manager Clare Slipper, who organised the survey said: “There is a barely a punnet of strawberries or a head of broccoli that isn’t picked by non-UK workers.
“Scotland’s horticultural industry saw a shortfall in seasonal workers of between 10 and 15 percent last year and our survey of the sector, shows how deep the worry is.
“Every one of the 32 specialist growers who responded are concerned or very concerned about labour shortages this year, three-quarters of them expect the situation to have got worse when compared to 2018 and almost two-thirds are considering downsizing their business as a result."
NFU Scotland believes the UK Government must commit to a new Seasonal Workers Scheme for 2018 or it runs the risk of undermining the horticultural sector.
NFU Scotland will be in London in next week to hold meetings with the Home Office on the issue.


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