According to Batters, the recent rationing of products such as tomatoes and cucumbers by supermarkets highlights the need for more government support. The NFU is calling for a five-year rolling seasonal worker scheme with no “unrealistic” cap on numbers to address labour shortages. Post-Brexit seasonal labour schemes have been problematic, with a workforce shortfall leading to £60mn of food rotting in fields in the first half of 2022.
The NFU’s warning comes after leek growers reported that extreme weather had reduced harvests by between 15 and 30 per cent, and supplies of home-grown leeks would be exhausted by April, leaving the country dependent on imports. Batters warned that a shortage of just a few things could lead to empty supermarket shelves.
Overall, the NFU’s warning highlights the challenges faced by the UK farming sector and the need for more government support to ensure food security and reduce reliance on imports.