Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader and North East Fife MP Wendy Chamberlain will today (Wednesday 25th) lead a Westminster debate on the challenges facing rural businesses struggling to recruit workers and warn that the country is facing a choice of food shortages “now or later”.
In the debate Ms Chamberlain will attack the Home Office’s handling of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme and warn that shortages are already having an impact on the food on our tables.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Ms Chamberlain said:
“The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme was set up to replace the short term workers used by farmers prior to Brexit but there have been significant problems with the scheme since its inception.
“The Home Office has been warned time and time again about problems, such as time frames being too short and a lack of visas but they seem impervious to all implications for both our farming communities and the food on our tables.
“Farms are having to either let produce rot or divert other workers who should be planting next year’s crops. It is a choice of food shortages now or later.
“The government needs to act to support domestic agriculture. This isn’t just about labour, but about investing in training and professional development. They also need to act to tackle areas like animal feed, fuel, fertiliser, energy where there are shortages or costs are increasing.”