Perth and North Perthshire MP, Pete Wishart, took part in a House of Commons debate on the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme today (Thursday 6th July).
The scheme is used by many in the soft fruit sector in Perthshire to attract seasonal workers and to ensure that soft fruit arrives on our shelves in the best possible condition.
Mr Wishart said;
“I represent one of the largest growing soft fruit sectors in the UK. The town of Blairgowrie is synonymous with berries and across Perthshire so much of our heritage is wound up with the berry farms and the tales of luggies, cleeks and dreels.
“Soft fruit remains an important sector particularly for areas such as Perthshire as it does for the whole of Scotland. All of this is now under threat because of Brexit.
“The clock is ticking and 750 tonnes of Scottish soft fruit production is hanging on a Brexit precipice. This autumn farmers need to start recruiting for next year.
“If there is no certainty about labour movement or even a permit screen to let workers into the country, everything will have to change. Producers can’t plant what they can’t pick and this could involve ending soft fruit production if the uncertainty continues. It is that urgent.
“The solution lies in the hands of the Government. The rest of us can only savour those delicious Scottish strawberries and raspberries for as long as we can.”