Why few Britons pick fruit on our farm | Letter

Re your article (‘Just not true’ we’re too lazy for farm work, say frustrated UK applicants, 20 April), we run a small soft fruit farm in Kent and have had about 700 applications for 50 places. There are a number of reasons we are not taking all UK workers.

Our season runs from May to October, but many UK applicants will go back to their old jobs as soon as they start up again, leaving us with not enough labour to pick the crop.

For physical distancing reasons we are minimising the number of people on the campsite, so we only have room for those who have worked for us before, but we are keen to recruit local people and have been in touch with many. In the past we had a high dropout rate with UK workers. I think we all understand that the main reason seasonal work is unattractive is that bills must be paid year-round.

Many people also seem to think that, because we employ foreign workers, we somehow pay less than the legal minimum. All our workers are paid at least the national living wage and some will earn well above that. We would like to be able to pay more, but as labour is at least 50% of our overall costs this would mean a large rise in retail prices for fruit.
Andrew Chesson
Manor Farm, Ightham, Kent

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