Rennie: PM must lift cap on seasonal agricultural workers

After completing a shift as a strawberry picker, Willie Rennie has called on the Prime Minister to lift the cap on Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS).

East Grangemuir Farm which grows a crop of strawberries, potatoes, broccoli and cereals, requested 20 workers from the 2,500 UK wise scheme yet it received only 8.

Commenting on his time at the farm, Willie Rennie said:

“The team here at Easter Grangemuir do an incredible job getting the best of Fife’s summer produce to market whatever the weather. It’s hard physical work getting the fruit picked and packaged while it’s still ripe, and that’s made all the harder when there aren’t enough staff.

“Fruit farming is one of Fife’s dominant industries but the need for seasonal workers is felt keenly in farms across the country.

“Brexit and the dramatic fall in the value of the pound has had an equally dramatic impact on the the number of workers from the rest of Europe travelling to work in the UK. This is making it more challenging for these farms to grow and thrive.

“Businesses are understandably frustrated at the limited staff supply. If the Prime Minister wants to boost agriculture he needs to urgently revisit the seasonal worker scheme and increase the number of staff available. I’d suggest quadrupling it.

“However, ultimately if Brexit goes ahead there will be many more problems for farmers. It will damage exports, delay produce getting to market and deter even more workers. That’s one of the many reasons the Scottish Liberal Democrats want to put a stop to Brexit.”

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