The challenges faced by growers in South Holland were raised with MP Sir John Hayes. Sue Lamb, the owner of Lambs Flowers, raised the issues faced by local firms with rural crime and labor shortages with Sir John during the visit to the Pinchbeck area business, which specializes in hydroponic tulips at this time of year.
While many growers have invested in mechanization but some are still shorthanded following Brexit. Mrs. Lamb said: “Growers are already making decisions about what they plant and the supply of labor is already impacting those plans. British Growers Association data shows an average reduction of the area by 9.2% across 11 crops, with some scrapping production altogether and others reducing by more than a third.
“Efficiency-boosting tech is still being developed and is likely to be unavailable for five more years. This could mean a three-year gap between the Government’s seasonal worker scheme ending and the technology is ready. It is also expensive, with machines to replace 16 workers costing £1m. “Sir John said he is supportive of inclusive grants toward technology to assist investors in the ornamental sector and other businesses that face worker shortages.” The National Living Wage for seasonal workers was discussed during the visit and the NFU has asked for this proposal to be delayed.
Sue said: “We now have just four weeks before the new rules are supposed to be implemented, but still have confusion and mixed messages from the government. “It is critical we get the Government to see sense and give priority to supporting home production before world trade deals. We discussed the uncertainty faced by our farmers and growers with mixed messages received from the government. Sir John is supportive of a government strategy for food security, giving businesses the confidence to invest in the future.”
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