Wednesday, 11 July 2018 15:46


The SNP has demanded urgent relief and intervention by the UK government to relax rules around seasonal workers – as Angus and Perthshire fruit farmers warn of disaster.

Accounts from business-owners in today’s Press and Journal paint a deeply troubling picture, with one fruit farm alone having to leave 15 tonnes of quality strawberries and raspberries in the fields to rot last week because of a lack of available labour. 
Other growers reported severe stress among the sector, with one comparing the stress among growers as comparable to that among livestock farmers during the foot-and-mouth crisis.
NFU Scotland’s horticulture committee chairman James Porter levels criticism at the Prime Minister for having “put the brakes” on a seasonal agricultural workers scheme to address the problem. 
Commenting, Angus South MSP Graeme Dey said:
“This situation is now critical.
“Because of the deliberate choices made by this Tory government, soft fruit farmers are being forced to leave tonnes of quality produce lying in the fields to rot.
“That is nothing short of scandalous – it means lost income for them, a hugely damaging impact upon the local economy and lost confidence in the sector for future years.
“And it’s not just farmers’ livelihoods at risk, but their mental health too – with huge pressures and stress in the industry, evoking memories some of the worst crises ever to hit Scottish agriculture.
“The UK government cannot continue to sit idly by. We need more seasonal workers and we need them now. Keeping the door closed in the face of valuable labour – those who want to come here to work hard and help our economy – serves nobody’s purposes.
“It’s policy designed to appease the extreme right-wing in the Tory party, instead of working for Scotland.”
Notes: “Panic as produce left to rot in pickers shortage” – p43 of today’s Press and Journal

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