UK: MPs visit Perthshire to hear about horticulture labor shortages

Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee has visited a number of horticulture businesses in Perthshire to hear about the impact immigration reforms are having on the workforce. During the visit, members of the committee attended ornamental grower and plant wholesaler A&G Young, Glendoick Garden Centre and Arbuckle’s fruit and vegetable grower.

The horticulture and landscape industry in Scotland created £2.8bn of Gross Value Added in 2019 and supported over 64,000 jobs. However, the Horticultural Trade Association (HTA) - which facilitated the visits - warned that the majority of its members reported shortages in labor recruitment.

Within immigration reforms, a visa for seasonal agricultural workers was retained. However, at present, ornamentals are unable to access the scheme as edibles are currently taking the full allocation of places. The HTA has warned that with a deficit of around 3,000 workers, it could mean that trees, plants and bulbs are not produced.

While on the visit, the committee heard how difficult it is for growers to recruit locally and of the importance of seasonal workers from overseas. It also heard how the horticulture industry is making progress to reduce its use of plastic and to focus on horticulture that is environmentally sustainable.

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