Leading grower warns seasonal farm worker shortage could cause ‘significant disruption’

A leading Scottish fruit and vegetable grower says problems securing enough seasonal farm workers could lead to “significant disruption” in food supply chains.

The warning comes from Stewarts of Tayside chairman, Will Stewart, in his report accompanying the company’s latest accounts.


The company, which is based at Tofthill Farm, Glencarse, Perthshire, is one of the country’s biggest swede growers. It also grows and packs strawberries and raspberries.


It is very clear that the general level of uncertainty is unhelpful across our sector.

“[Brexit] Uncertainty remains with regards access to labour and our general supply chain regarding imports and exports,” said Mr Stewart in the accounts, which cover the year to May 31, 2020.


Stewarts of Tayside says failure to get a robust seasonal agricultural workers scheme in place could disrupt food supplies.


He said the UK Government needed to ensure it had a “robust and functioning” seasonal agricultural workers permit scheme in place.


“Without this it is clear that there will be significant disruption in the food supply chains in 2021 and beyond,” added Mr Stewart.


“We have adopted any measures that we can to mitigate these risks but it is very clear that the general level of uncertainty is unhelpful across our sector, particularly in terms of recruiting the traditional skilled labour force that is necessary to keep food shelves stocked across Great Britain.”


Source: Press and Journal