Gerrard Vonk runs a farm in West Sussex and has relied on seasonal labourers from EU countries to pick his crops for the past 33 years. Journalist Luke Hanrahan spoke to Mr Vonk who said post-Brexit red tape has made it more difficult for seasonal pickers from eastern Europe to come over.
His comments were instantly slammed by many Express.co.uk readers – who said there were lots of British people who could fill the vacancies.
One wrote: “People can’t buy ANYTHING if they don’t have any money because an influx of foreign workers has pushed wages down to poverty levels.
“Worse still, the low wages ended up being subsidised by the taxpayer. Meaning more tax. Meaning people had less to spend.”
A second raged: “Most other countries were not stupid enough to sign up and allow the EU dictatorship to call the shots.
“Fortunately the UK escaped the federal united states of the EU and will control our destiny.
“Unlike the remaining 27 (countries) who will be led by unelected pen pushers lining their own pockets at the expense of all who remain controlled by the EU mafia.”
Meanwhile a third claimed: “There is no need for a shortage of workers.
“I know families that have tried to come here to work as farm workers from the Philippines for six months and they didn’t even get an email reply from agencies and farms etc.
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“It’s not about shortage of workers but the farms and agencies getting out of their comfort bubble and spreading the net.”
Mr Hanrahan said: “For 33 years, Gerrard Vonk has relied on seasonal pickers from eastern Europe to harvest his peppers.
“Now the shortage of workers is so serious, this crop is over-ripening.
“This farm is 72 workers down on this time last year.”
Showing him around the farm, Mr Vonk told Euronews: “We have got fruit that should have been harvested but it won’t be harvested for another three days.
“Look over here, plants that are 100 percent red.
“There are now more barriers, more red tape and it is much more difficult to actually come and work over here.
“It has been challenging for our business but undoubtedly for all other businesses in the area.
“It cannot continue if it stays like this.
“A lot of things have to happen, it is going to be a big loss for the business.”
Mr Hanrahan closed by saying: “Five miles away there is a field of wasted courgettes.
“The fear for farms like this one is that British supermarkets will look to the EU to fill their empty shelves.
“On this one farm, there are three-quarters of a million unpicked courgettes, 150 tonnes worth of vegetables just left to rot.
“This is because they can’t get the staff, if this continues it will force farms like this one to make difficult decisions about their future.”