Cropaganda! BBC is accused of anti-Brexit agenda on Countryfile
THE BBC has used Countryfile to broadcast anti-Brexit propaganda, viewers have claimed. Some have threatened to boycott the rural affairs show after its episode examining the future of the migrant labour force.
Anthony Snell, a Herefordshire-based strawberry farmer, said restrictions on seasonal workers from abroad would be ‘absolutely catastrophic’.
Accusations of a pro-Remain tone began when presenter Matt Baker introduced the feature on the EU, saying: ‘Tom Heap is looking into migrant labour on our farms, and asking could we get by without a foreign workforce.’
He later added: ‘Agriculture is an industry that relies on migrant workers but, with Brexit on the horizon, there are worries that we could be facing a severe labour shortage.’
Mr Snell told Mr Heap that his company could be derailed if migration restrictions were introduced.
He said: ‘This isn’t anything to do with migration or immigration, this is just seasonal workers coming over here, working hard, benefiting our economy and then going home.
‘There’s absolutely no doubt we would be in serious trouble if we didn’t have our seasonal workers coming here. We would be out of business. It would be absolutely catastrophic to our industry.’
Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, said: ‘ The programme is far too Left-wing. Over half the farmers voted to leave the EU.
‘And the Government is well aware of the need for seasonal workers for soft fruit farms. What the BBC has done is put the very worst spin on this.’
Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said: ‘The BBC needs to get over the referen- dum result, and get out more, because it would seem the overwhelming majority disagree with them. It is a bit of a mystery that the BBC cannot seem to find anyone in favour of leaving the EU.
‘The BBC were very fair and even handed during the referendum campaign, but since then they have gone into mourning and their coverage has been completely unacceptable.’
One viewer wrote: ‘Majority of farmers voted to leave, BBC stop moaning and making up issues. Tom Heap is a doom merchant.’ Another said: ‘BBC can’t resist using Countryfile as Brexit-undermining tool again.’
Mr Snell also disputed the BBC’s coverage of the issue, telling the Mail he had explicitly asked it not to refer to his staff as migrant workers. He said there were seasonal staff instead.
Plamen Velichkov, 29 and from Bulgaria, said: ‘My job is to supervise and to check the quality of the strawberries. I have left behind my family in Bulgaria, my mum, my dad and sister.
‘I come here in January and go back in December. I love it here, I mean that.’
Mr Snell said: ‘He’s a very good worker and we are lucky to have him. We couldn’t manage without people like him.
‘We employ around 70 seasonal workers at the minute but that goes up to 300 in May. We also employ British people, around 25 of them but they are mainly in management positions.’