Following recent immigration reforms and stricter rules for migrant worker checks at the border as per Brexit’s new regulations, UK grocers could face shortages of fresh fruits and vegetables, reports Yahoo News.
Citing the changes as a “perfect storm” for conditions to worsen for the import industry in the UK, Ali Capper of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) criticized the tightened regulations on migrant workers.
The British government revealed its post-Brexit immigration system last week. Beginning next year, it will end the free movement of EU workers, making up 60% in agriculture. There are a provisional 10,000 spaces in a proposed “pilot seasonal worker scheme” that farmers say is grossly insufficient as they need 70,000 workers during harvest seasons.
In an interview with journalists, Capper, an apple farmer, said that the new rules are “head-spinningly unbelieveable”. She went on to be quoted saying that “checks are pretty scary because that means delay”. Such delays, Caper explained, are especially difficult when the goods are perishable.
“Will we have empty shelves? Will prices go up? Yes,” she added.
This is in line with what the British Retail Consortium warned of earlier this month when saying that Brexit policies would create “significant disruption” in the marketplace. Capper isn’t the only farmer who has expressed concern and panic over the new policies. Other growers have told the publication that if supermarket customers are calling to ask about crop next year, they aren’t sure if they can even keep contracts with retailers.
Meanwhile, Capper, who runs Stocks Farm on the Worcestershire-Herefordshire border says, “I’ll be facing supermarket customers asking if I’m confident I can pick my crop next year. “If I’m not, I’m not going to take a contract out.”
Capper blamed the pound’s decline, rising incomes in eastern Europe and Britain’s political atmosphere for the labour shortage. “We’ve done a pretty good job making clear we don’t want people.”