Gloucestershire farmer to cut crops over worker uncertainty

workers in high-visibility clothing

A farmer claims that because he is unsure of his ability to continue hiring seasonal workers, he plans to stop growing labor-intensive crops.

80 people are needed to pick crops on Martin Haines' farms in Gloucestershire, where WR Haines is based.

But after the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme expires in 2024, he is unsure if he will still be able to hire them.

It suggests that he and other UK farmers could stop raising produce that must be hand-picked, like peas and beans.

According to a senior National Farmers Union (NFU) representative, the government should be more transparent with the sector.

Martin Haines standing in a farm
In the autumn, Mr. Haines says he is concerned about being understaffed.

Mr. Haines is pleading with the government to publish its review of labor shortages in the food supply chain this year as soon as possible.

He claims that ensuring workers arrive at the appropriate time is very difficult.

According to the source scheme, the number of employees we had scheduled had already arrived, but they could only stay for six months.

This, according to Mr. Haines, means that he might be short-staffed in the fall.

"We must be aware of what will occur. We must consider just a UK workforce if the source scheme is not going to be continued after December 2024, he continued.

Workers wearing high vis jackets
The staff that will start working next week will depart in November, according to Mr. Haines.

Despite his efforts, Mr. Haines claims he has not been successful in hiring local workers.

We've been working with all the local job agencies, but no one has applied in the past three years, he claimed.

Mr. Haines claimed that he had considered the possibility of replacing labor with machinery and had tested an automatic planter in the hopes that it could perform the duties of eight people.

But he discovered that it required so many people to run and maintain the equipment that the cost of purchasing it was not justified.

Workers in a field wearing high vis jackets working near a tractor
Mel Squires claimed that the inability to find UK workers was "not for a lack of trying.".

Farmers find it challenging to "plan ahead," according to Mel Squires, director of NFU South, who urged the government to allow for the use of as much migrant labor as possible in addition to hiring UK workers.

When attempting to strengthen the resilience of your company, having only enough staff isn't ideal, she said.

The failure to find UK employees "is not for lack of trying," she continued.

She said, "We've seen many instances where farmers and growers are attempting to work with their neighborhood communities, work with neighborhood job centers.

In order to support our domestic food production in the long run and ensure its security and sustainability, we must find additional solutions. ".

"Seasonal labor is an essential component of the rural economy in the UK, and we continue to support our farmers through the seasonal workers visa route," a government spokesperson said. "We will keep providing the workers our farmers and growers require, while also making improvements to the seasonal worker route to prevent exploitation, and we will take stern action against anyone who violates the law," the statement reads.

. "

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