UK farmers are still struggling to recruit harvest workers

The UK government has made 15,000 extra visas available for seasonal workers, bringing the total number of people who can travel here to help to 45,000. Tessa Elliot, whose family grows potatoes near Cresselly, Pembrokeshire, said she and other crop farmers had enough on their plate, such as coping with weather conditions without having to find temporary workers. She said there were a lot of factors contributing to recruitment issues, like the fallout from Brexit and the pandemic.

“We used to have a lot of overseas workers that came over to do seasonal work and then go home for the winter months, but not anymore,” said Tessa.” And even since the visas have been approved a bit more, we’re still struggling massively.”

Some farms have diversified with ‘pick your own’ options for customers, partly as a result of not wanting to be reliant on outside labor. However, NFU Cymru county adviser Aled Davies said ‘pick your own’ could never be a solution to worker shortages on large farms. “There is an issue with seasonal workers’ ability to work in this country,” he added. “We welcome the fact that the UK government has given 45,000 people the right to work in the UK on a temporary basis. But it is still an issue on some of these farms.”

The UK government said it recognized seasonal labor was an integral part of the UK’s rural economy.