Brexit has caused a “massive hole” in the numbers of people coming to the UK to pick fruit in the summer months putting growers “on the brink”, it is claimed.
Numbers of seasonal workers applying to work at one Kent-based company are down 90% in the last two years and there are fears for the future.
Stephen Taylor, managing director of Winterwood Farms Ltd, said the labour market has got “tighter and tighter” over the last couple of years.
He said the impact of Brexit on the flow of workers to UK farms is only getting worse.
A spokesperson from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the Government will “always back our farmers and growers” and ensure producers across the UK have the support and workforce that they need.
But speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Taylor said: “95% of all fruit and produce picked and packaged in this country is done by eastern Europeans.
End of June
“From the end of June, people who haven’t got pre-settled status, at least, can’t work.