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One of the UK’s biggest farmers explains the Brexit risk to British farming and the reality of the migrant worker situation.
Guy Poskitt, whose farming business produces tens of thousands of tonnes of fruit and vegetables, says if there is a reduction in migrants workers “You will see a shortage of British vegetables, undisputedly.”
Guy, who was voted UK Farmer of the Year in 2012, says the reason farming uses so many foreign workers isn’t because of wage costs, but because local workers just aren’t available.
“It’s nothing to do with money. All our workers are properly paid under the national living wage, which is set out by the government, but we do struggle to get a lot of local people who want to do these lower grade jobs.
“There are more fashionable jobs, definitely, that would be easier and offer a warmer environment.”
In an ideal world Guy says he’d like to employ more local workers, but that it’s not an option as things stand.
“Do you think anyone wants the aggravation of having lots of migrant workers if they could find the local workers?
“This situation has created itself because we’ve seen a demand for a workforce increase and we haven’t seen a local population that want to fill that.”
Mindful of how the changes brought by Brexit could damage British agriculture, Guy says the industry is lobbying the government to bring back seasonal worker schemes and longer term visas to ensure the workers the industry needs are available.