SUPERMARKETS may suffer from a devastating fruit and vegetable shortage this summer.
Outraged MPs accused British farmers of being on the “priority list”.
This means that tasty fruits and vegetables, including strawberries, raspberries, peas and lettuce, can rot in the fields because there are not enough selectors to harvest the crop.
Despite the start of the season, ministers last week announced only two of the four operators for its seasonal labor pilot.
Top MPs from the Environment Committee reiterated their demand that the pilot project be extended to other food supply chain jobs, which have relied on some labor from abroad.
Top Tory Neil Parish Sun ministers have called for the British to step down and sign a new British land army this summer, adjust the gaps and re-employ more people.
He said last night: “We need to get more homework to pick our fruits and vegetables – but the numbers here are not enough.
“If we don’t bring in the labor to pick it up – we’ll export our fantastic growing and agribusiness.
“This is bad for our economy, bad for the environment.
“British breeders are placed at the bottom of the Home Office’s priority list, and unnecessary uncertainty can be costly for producers.”
He called on environmentalist George Eustace to spearhead another ‘Big for Britain’ campaign this year, revealing that the country may be short of 30,000 temporary workers to pull crops off the ground in the coming weeks.
About 15 percent of daffodils were not picked this spring due to staff shortages.
Soft fruits are especially at risk because they must be picked by hand rather than by machine as it can damage the crop.
Post-Brexit rules have tightened visas for seasonal fruit pickers coming to the UK in the summer, and are helping to get the most coveted food out of the country’s supermarkets.
But Mr Parish said the British, especially those who lost their jobs during the recent Govt crisis, should consider reclaiming the agricultural sector and providing tasty British produce to the nation.
Ministers revealed last night that they would not be launching a new British selection campaign this year, and stressed that new project providers would be exposed at good times so seasonal workers could come to work in the summer months.
A Defra spokesman said last night: “Seasonal workers provide vital labor to ensure local products are available on supermarket shelves.
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“We will always support our farmers and growers and ensure that manufacturers across the UK have the support and staff they need.
“This year’s seasonal worker pilot – which has been extended and extended to 10,000 to 30,000 visas – will continue to support the edible horticulture sector.”
“Food and agribusinesses can employ EU nationals with immigrant or pre-immigrant status to help them meet their labor needs.”