- Title: From the Garden of England to Poland, UK farmers look abroad after Brexit
- Date: 26th July 2017
- Summary: LANGLEY, KENT, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 21, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MIGRANT WORKERS PICKING RASPBERRIES (SOUNDBITE) (English) FARMER AT W. B. CHAMBERS & SON, TIM CHAMBERS, SAYING: "We have partners abroad who supply fruit to us at the moment, and we are looking to start producing product in Poland, under our own badge, rather than as a partnership. We think that, although at the moment it's not a necessity, we're planning for potential changes which would make it more effective and more efficient." VARIOUS OF MIGRANT WORKERS PICKING RASPBERRIES (SOUNDBITE) (English) FARM MANAGER, SALIH HODZHOV, SAYING: "With all the Brexit talks and all the elections happening in the last few months, well the people are concerned, they're a little bit anxious about what's going to happen, and I think the general thing is this uncertainty. I mean it's all this talk yeah, you can't come in and you need [a] visa, and this is going to change and that's going to change. So yes, definitely the people are a little bit worried. When you want to build your future you want certainty, you want to know exactly what is going to happen." MIGRANT WORKERS PICKING RASPBERRIES VARIOUS OF MIGRANT WORKERS PUTTING RASPBERRIES INTO BOXES / STACKING BOXES RASPBERRIES ON PLANT MIGRANT WORKERS WALKING PAST RASPBERRIES OFFHAM, KENT, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 21, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MIGRANT WORKERS HARVESTING LETTUCE VARIOUS OF FARM DIRECTOR AT LAURENCE J BETTS, NICK OTTEWELL, SUPERVISING HARVEST VARIOUS OF WORKERS PICKING LETTUCE (SOUNDBITE) (English) FARM DIRECTOR AT LAURENCE J BETTS, NICK OTTEWELL, SAYING: "I can manage on this farm next year, but at the moment, I really don't know how we're going to staff this farm in 2019. And I really do think that it's unrealistic now, because it's dragged [on] for so long without any real action happening, already, that they're going to have a scheme in place in time. And the political instability that's going on is just pushing back and pushing back any real action being taken. And farmers are going to potentially be staring over the cliff face in 2019." VARIOUS OF MIGRANT WORKERS PICKING LETTUCE PACKAGED LETTUCE VARIOUS OF MIGRANT WORKERS PICKING LETTUCE
- Embargoed: 9th August 2017 12:08
- Keywords: Kent visa raspberries Poland farming Brexit freedom of movement EU farmers Agriculture CAP migrants Bulgaria
- Location: OFFHAM AND LANGLEY, KENT, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- City: OFFHAM AND LANGLEY, KENT, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: European Union,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0016RCTOAV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: For 70 years, Tim Chambers' family has harvested fruit in south-east England, but after Britain's vote last year to leave the European Union he expanded into Poland and is ready to sell some of his land if a shortage of migrant workers worsens.
His firm, W. B. Chambers & Son, has relied heavily on seasonal staff from eastern Europe for the past two decades as it focused on growing raspberries and blackberries that require laborious harvesting by hand.
Typically, at the height of the summer season, 1,200 migrant workers from other EU states pick the delicate berries from more than 520 kilometres (320 miles) of rows of bushes planted across rolling land in Kent, a county known as the Garden of England.
This year, Chambers found it harder to recruit workers at the start of the season in June. Many workers hesitated about coming to Britain after the fall in the value of the pound since the vote for Brexit in the June 2016 referendum.
Chambers invested this year in raspberry production with a partner in Poland to avoid possible barriers to exporting fruit to the EU from Britain when Brexit happens in 2019.
If the shortage in migrant labour gets worse and pushes up his costs, he is prepared to shift more of his business to Poland and might even sell some of his family's land in England, he said.
Farm manager Salih Hodzhov migrated from Bulgaria.
He said that many migrants have worries about their future since the Brexit vote.
The government has said it will use a transition period to ensure employers are not left without workers after Brexit, but so far there is no clear sign of how it plans to do that.
Nick Ottewell, farming director for Laurence J Betts, a Kent-based salad grower, said the uncertainties clouding migrant labour and Britain's EU divorce talks could cause major headaches for British agriculture.
"The political instability going on is just pushing back any real action being taken," he told Reuters. "Farmers are going to potentially be staring over the cliff face in 2019."
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