Farmring in th UK

UK Farmers ‘struggling’ to harvest crops due to labour recruiting crisis

Attracting seasonal workers remains a problem for some UK farmers, despite the UK government’s attempts to increase the number of visas available for people from overseas.

There is a shortage of short term farm labour in the UK to pick crops, especially potatoes. Some of the possible causes and consequences of this situation range from Brexit to the war in war Ukraine.


Brexit has reduced access to temporary workers coming from the EU, while war in Ukraine has disrupted the flow from a country that has provided a large proportion of the UK’s harvest workers in recent years.

The UK government has a seasonal workers pilot scheme that offers short-term visas to those helping with food production, but the farming industry says it needs more than the 38,000 visas that have been made available.

High employment levels in the UK and alternative work opportunities in other sectors such as warehouses and delivery have made it harder for farmers to recruit local workers.

The labour shortage has led to food waste of home-grown fruit and vegetables, as some crops are left to rot in the fields or are harvested less frequently.

Unharvested crops left to rot in a field due to worker shortage in the UK

Food waste and supply chain

The food supply chain is also affected by the lack of workers in slaughterhouses, dairy farms, and other processing facilities.

The food waste and supply disruption could have negative impacts on the environment, the economy, and the consumers’ access to fresh and affordable produce

And it can be especially challenging for farmers in very rural areas, where transport is more difficult and the pools of workers available are likely to be smaller.

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