Despite repeated warnings from the union the season has seen large quantities of soft fruit rotting on farms due to a lack of pickers, which has led to a considerable loss to individual businesses and the wider rural economy.
James Porter, horticultural chairman at NFU Scotland, said: “We have repeatedly raised our concerns regarding the availability of seasonal and permanent labour in the agriculture and food processing industries with the Home Office. It was great to have the opportunity to discuss this face-to-face with the minister.
“Such a scheme is needed urgently. Throughout this current season, we have had evidence from several growers that large amounts of crop have been lost due to a lack of labour available to pick. Losses for businesses that have been impacted are running in to the hundreds of thousands of pounds.”