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Brexit Is Ruining Apple-Picking Season in the UK, and 1,147 Tons Have Already Been Wasted

by Eben Diskin Oct 21, 2019

Brexit is affecting many aspects of daily life in the UK, and some are more surprising than others. The apple-picking industry, for example, has suffered a major blow amid the Brexit uncertainty. As more EU nationals leave the UK due to concerns about stricter immigration checks following Brexit, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has warned of a shortage of apple pickers, leaving many fruits and vegetables unpicked.

According to one survey conducted by the NFU, 1,147 tons of apples have already been wasted this year, and the amount of rotting fruit only seems likely to rise in the future.

Ali Capper, chair of the NFU’s horticulture and potato board, told The Independent, “I think it is morally reprehensible that we are allowing this level of food waste.”

Instead of working in the UK, many works are pursuing job opportunities in other EU countries like Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Last month there was a labor shortage of 20 percent, and that number is projected to rise in October — the height of apple picking season.

According to Capper, Brexit is “making people feel like they are not welcome here. It has been about question marks in terms of future status: ‘Can I come back next year? Will I need a passport? Can I continue to come on my work card? Will I get stopped at the border?’”

To resolve the issue, the NFU is asking the government to place greater emphasis on the Seasonal Workers Pilot program, allowing 2,500 workers from outside the EU to travel for seasonal work in the UK. This would help address shortages.

Until then, don’t be surprised if your local orchard is littered with rotten apples.

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