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Farming Union slams Brexit & Covid for 'record' 34% fruit and vegetable picker shortage – Express

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Speaking to LBC on Saturday, Minette Batters claimed chaotic shortages of workers is leading to carnage in Britain’s food distribution networks as producers are thought to have binned an estimated “£16 billion” worth of food already in Britain. Food is sitting unpicked on British farms and not arriving on the shelves, it has been suggested.
Ms Batters said: “You see 34 percent shortfall that is vacancies on farm seasonal workers.
“It has never been that high before, it is absolutely huge.
“At the moment we rely on the dexterity of the human hand to to pick strawberries, raspberries, cut asparagus, cut daffodils.
“That is where the problems have come from.”
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She noted that, despite the shortages, Britain has for a long time remained the “the most preferred” country to work in for employment seekers from overseas.
But Ms Batters noted impact of recent times. She said: “One: Brexit and ending of free movement and two: Covid which has had an enormous impact.”
The Union President went on to highlight how, as a result of delays spurred on by the two issues, food wastage has rocketed in Britain.
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She said: “A tomato grower that I spoke to recently has thrown away over £400,000 worth of tomatoes.
“That has been a common theme throughout this year – food waste is just disastrous.”
But in a shocking claim, Ms Batters said how Britain has binned “£16 billion of food” already this year.
The farmer said: “It is outrageous to continue wasting it at the level that we are, especially on farm when you have got perfectly good raw ingredients that need to get to the shops.”
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Host Matt Frei went on to question how many pickers are required to fill the massive shortage in Britain amid the mounting piles of food waste.
Ms Batters explained how around 70,000 workers are involved in the picking process around Britain.
She added how there is currently a pilot scheme running in the UK to bring in 30,000 extra pickers to cope with the chaos.
But she slammed how this is simply not enough to bridge the gap in Britain’s dwindling picker crisis.

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