How Brexit Could Make Food Prices Skyrocket

How Brexit Could Make Food Prices Skyrocket
    “The European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier says the Brexit talks are deadlocked
    over the U.K.s divorce bill”
    U.K’s Brexit negotiations are stumbling and farmers across Britain are concerned.
    Either there is labour to pick the crops or what?
    There are no crops. We will have to start importing vast quantities of fresh food.
    Farmers believe the UK government is scared of confronting the immigration issue. Leaving
    them in the dark over who will work in the fields.
    The words migration and immigration are just dirty words in the UK now and we can’t even
    talk about it.
    And farmers are being caught up in the argument.
    I had hate mail you’re taking work from
    British workers - it’s absolute garbage
    If the workers can’t be found fruit and vegetables will be left to rot in the fields
    and you’ll pay more at the supermarket.
    We are are facing significant labour shortages which will impact on the economy and on the
    ability of this nation to produce food.
    This is Bloomberg’s The Real Cost of Brexit.
    We’re traveled to Kent in Southern England. This regions voted overwhelmingly for Brexit
    but farmers are divided down the middle.
    Their businesses rely on migrant labour.
    80,000 migrant workers are needed every year across the country
    Brexit has but their future in doubt.
    We think we produce about 5 percent of the U.K.'s lettuce requirements
    Nick Ottewell is the farm manager at Laurence J Bett’s, one of Kent’s biggest salad growers
    He employs around 140 farm workers. Of those working in the fields, all are from eastern
    Europe, most from Romania.
    They live on the farm and work for up to 6 days a week, for 7 pounds 50 and hour.
    So these guys are cutting the lettuce by knife
    because they're naked and then it's coming up here into this machine and it's being packed
    This is what it takes to run a farm like this.
    We need people who can do that every day, all day, otherwise we haven't got a business
    Since the Brexit vote, attracting migrant workers has got harder.
    A survey by the National Farmers Union found the number of seasonal workers coming to work
    on British farms has dropped 17%.
    If next year you can’t get the people you need, what will happen?
    I don’t have a business, that’s what I keep trying to say to anyone that interviews…
    I do not have a business here with out 60 to 80 people prepared to bend their
    back every day and work hard and cut lettuce, I do not have a business model
    And why can’t those people be British?
    There's two or three points I would like to make on this.
    The first is we are at 3 percent unemployment.
    I can go down to the local job centre, I can get one or two people. I need 100 people here.
    I’m not taking work from British workers.
    According to industry bodies, virtually all of Britain’s agricultural seasonal workers
    come from the E.U. most from Eastern Europe.
    Of the 13,000 workers recruited between January and May, only 14 were British
    What to come and meet the workers?
    Nick introduces us to Kamila. She’s worked on the farm for six years and is now a team leader
    And where are you from?
    Romania
    And most of you're team are from Romania?
    In my team now, yes, it's all Romanian
    Kamila doesn’t share Nick’s concerns, she shrugs off Brexit fears and argues it’s
    not hard to recruit eager workers.
    No it’s not hard because Romanian people need money and come back.
    Despite Kamilia confidence, farmers are seeing the opposite
    falling numbers of migrant workers from the E.U.
    Nick’s whole business relies on visa free E.U. labour but that will almost certainly
    stop post-Brexit. He’s left asking where the workers will come from.
    We’ve heading 30 minutes down the road to WB Chambers and Son.
    How many tonnes of fruit do you produce?
    Two thousand tonnes of Raspberries...
    Tim’s farm is one of the biggest berry growers in the U.K.
    He employs over 1200 migrant labourers - over 90 percent of which are from Bulgaria.
    He also voted to leave the E.U. despite the decision complicating his business in
    the short term,
    I’m very positive, I didn’t vote for my business, I voted for the greater good of
    the country.
    Tim believes leaving the E.U. will likely harm the U.K. economy but in the long run
    it is the right decision.
    He also argues when Britain stop visa free E.U. immigration - migrant workers can be
    found elsewhere.
    The work force can come from outside Europe, the rest of Europe has a labour shortage and
    other countries in europe are already solving that by bringing in workers from Ukraine and
    Byelorussia
    Although Tim and Nick disagree on Brexit, they agree on the problem.
    Tim is already finding it harder to get the workers he needs.
    Earlier in the year, we ourselves walked away from 100, 150 tonnes of fruit that
    we didn’t have the people in June to harvest
    That’s around 5 percent of the farm’s monthly total. Tim didn’t want to be specific..
    but says his margins are tight and that loss significantly hurts his business.
    For some reason the words migration, immigration are just dirty words in the UK now
    we can’t even talk about it
    but other countries are solving their labour solutions and we’re not doing it
    and it's because of a political minefield that we have got ourselves into where we can’t even
    discuss openly this requirement.
    On Tim’s farms a sense of being unwelcome in the U.K. and a falling pounds is weighing
    on worker’s minds.
    Some are already considering their options.
    What would stop you from coming back next year? Is it about the money?
    The first thing yeah. If I have to pay too expensive visa to stay here and work it is not going
    to make sense actually.
    Farmers and workers need to know at least a year in advance what the government’s
    plan is. As the March 2019 Brexit deadline approaches no one seems the wiser...
    We’ve left Kent and headed up to London to speak with the National Farmers Union.
    They’ve been sounding the alarm bell about at potential labour crisis.
    We want to know, is the government listening?
    “Yes but we are concerned they don’t properly access the enormity of the problem.
    Guy Smith is the NFU’s vice president and an Essex farmer himself.
    He’s calling on the government to give guidance on the sort of visa scheme farmers will have
    to deal post Brexit.
    His concerns is, the government doesn’t know themselves
    We feel the government is in the dark about what direction they are going in.
    Things are politically very opaque. We have an unusual political situation internally
    in Britain at the moment,
    with two political parties who seem to be in some sort of internal turmoil about how they
    should approach the Brexit challenge. Farmers need certainty for year ahead.
    The NFU argues the government should introduce a seasonal workers scheme as soon as possible
    because if no decision is reached soon, migrant labor could suddenly dry up.
    So for instance abattoir workers, food processing factories, waitresses, chefs, they are disproportionately
    maned by migrant labour,
    if you suddenly withdraw that labour pool for that food chain you will have all sorts
    of dysfunctionality
    which will then impact back on the farmer who was the start of the food chain.
    The union in warning next year will be worse. They’re expect further falls in migrant
    labour.
    Farmers are calling on the government to ensure they’re business are not jeopardised as
    negotiations get tough.
    The clock is ticking
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