Claim Brexit threatening local farms
Vote to leave already having an adverse impact
The fate of fruit and vegetable farms across Tayside and Fife is being threatened as a result of Brexit, it has been claimed.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie has called on the UK Government to guarantee an easy-to-operate seasonal workers scheme after hearing evidence local businesses are already struggling to get the staff they need, years before the country is due to leave the EU.
Mr Rennie was speaking following a visit to Barnsmuir Farm near Crail, which grows berries and brassica.
“At the peak of the season Barnsmuir needs 370 workers to harvest the fruit and the veg it grows on fields across north-east Fife,” he explained.
“Most of the workers come from Romania and Bulgaria, but since the Brexit vote they have been struggling to get the workforce they need.
“Their workers have faced a pay cut because of the fall in the value of pound against the euro following Brexit vote last June.
“The distance from home and the Scottish weather become more important when you don’t get paid as much. The workers are also wondering whether Britain really wants them when they hear that immigrants are a problem.
“All these adverse effects are impacting us even before we have left the European Union.”
Pete Wishart, SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, echoed those comments during a visit to Cronan Farm in Strathmore, highlighting warnings Scottish farmers could lose more than £250 million a year as a result of Brexit.
“The uncertain future for free movement of labour has already destabilised the industry and they desperately need to know whether these workers are going to be welcome in this country in the years ahead,” he noted.
A Government spokesperson said: “Until we have left the EU, the UK will remain a member with all of the rights and obligations that membership entails, and employers in the agricultural and food processing sectors are free to continue to recruit EU workers to meet their labour needs.” the the
Fruit and veg farms are already struggling to attract the workforce required to complete the harvest.