The impact of Brexit on UK farmers is becoming clearer - Liberty

Sunday, November 5, 2023

The impact of Brexit on UK farmers is becoming clearer


An Eastern European farmer harvested cabbage this month from a field owned by his Naylor Farms near Boston, England. Andrew Testa

For 40 years, the prime farmland Sarah Pettit's family rented near her home produced an abundance of vegetables, including the purple-sprouted broccoli that lines the shelves of Britain's upscale supermarkets. When immigration restrictions were put in place, curbing employment from Eastern Europe, this region near Britain's east coast saw a sharp decline in vital labor flows.

Pettit said she had little choice but to cut production by a fifth of hers.

It's been two years since the UK left her EU economy, and Brexit's effects have spread throughout the economy, making it impossible for the bloc's citizens to automatically work in the UK. According to her two research institutes, the Center for European Reform and Britain in a Changing Europe, one of the most glaring examples is that she employs some 330,000 workers in low-skilled jobs such as transport, retail, and hospitality. is hiring employees a shortage of

The absence of workers has hit the food and agriculture sectors particularly hard. She lost £22 million (about $27 million) worth of fruit and vegetables last year, according to a survey by the National Farmers Union, which found that 40% of her respondents suffered crop loss and more than half said to have reduced production.

Mr. Pettit will welcome more Poles, Latvians, and Lithuanians to Boston. But since Britain voted to leave the EU, many have left the country, Brexit has made it challenging to recruit successors, and the crop harvest has left many Britons behind

Boston expanded in 2004 after citizens of Poland and other former communist countries gained the right to work in the UK. Andrew Testa

An assessment by the Agriculture Recruitment Group said Brexit meant a "significant reduction in migrant workers."

At the time of the 2016 referendum, Brexit supporters were frustrated by what they felt was a loss of sovereignty over the European Union, especially immigration controls. Polls show that British sentiment is starting to oppose Brexit as business owners cite difficulties in finding workers, cumbersome trade issues, and cumbersome paperwork requirements.

In Boston, where residents strongly supported Brexit, there is little evidence that attitudes toward the European Union have changed. But people like Pettit are starting to realize the impact Brexit will have on their lives and lives.

Boston, 160 miles north of London, is a prime example of immigration to Britain in the 21st century.

When a group of former communist countries joined her EU in 2004, Britain is one of her three bloc countries that quickly opened up the labor market to new workers. At the time, the Polish economy was suffering from high unemployment and hundreds of thousands of Poles emigrated to Britain. Among them were bright and ambitious young men.

Many jobs have been created, especially in agriculture and food processing, and Boston has continued to expand since her 2004. But the influx of migrants put pressure on schools and health services, sparking a local backlash and ultimately contributing to pro-Brexit sentiment in the town. 10 years later.

But when Brexit began, the situation was reversed, and workers from countries such as Poland could no longer come to the UK without a visa. At the same time, the economies of Eastern European countries improved, employment became more attractive, and even those who had the right to remain in the UK were drawn back to their home countries.

"You can't take a pound bill out of your back pocket and throw it into the fire if you can't get people to harvest it," said Sarah Pettit, a farmer near Boston.Andrew Testa

When the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, even more people returned home, and some of those who remained quit their farm jobs anyway.

Recruitment agencies in the UK still hire many workers from abroad. But Pettit, who once employed as many as 22 people, said even immigrants from far-flung places, including the Middle East and Asia, were enough to sustain previous production, especially during peak times. He said there are many. She said she had no workers.

She said she found it difficult to find people who were willing to work on the farm, including British people, or who were as driven and reliable as those in Eastern Europe.

"They came on Monday doing their best and groaned about the fact they had to arrive at 7am," she said. ”

The UK government offers visa initiatives for seasonal agricultural workers, but these are intended for short stays suitable for fruit picking or for employers to provide workers with temporary housing. is. Petty's Ranch does not provide accommodation for staff. Pettit needs employees who live locally because she can work most of the year.

In Boston's town center, several Eastern European shops have closed. Andrew Testa

Petit, who was sitting in her farm office, said she understood her feelings behind Brexit, and as a critic of the European Union's agricultural policy, she said she would in principle. . I voted against Brexit.

She has worked in Boston for many years and chose to remain in Boston after Brexit, where she paid eight Eastern European workers. That's three times the minimum wage. Petit said raising wages with very high inflation was not an option.

Her nearby Naylor Farms employs about 75 workers, most of whom are from Poland and have long-term residency in the UK. Simon Naylor, the farm's chief operating officer, said:

Although his farm does not currently face a labor shortage, he sees the future.

Meanwhile, recent immigration from Eastern Europe has changed the landscape of cities like Boston. Boston inspired the name Boston after local settlers traveled to Massachusetts.

In the town center, some shops with Eastern European products are closed. Polish community priest Reverend Stanislaw Kowalski said that it was not Polish. About 700 to 800 people attend on weekends in Boston and her two neighboring towns. He said - is still an important congregation, but about 200 to 300 less than it used to be.

"Integration does not happen immediately. At least one generation process" said Rev. Staniswaf Cowarsky, the priest of the Polish community in the region. Andrew Testa

Among those who were employed before BREXIT, there was JEBA of Latvia, who arrived in the UK in 2011, arrived in the UK in 2011, and stayed for five years.

"It was a considerable amount compared to Latvian wages," she said from Riga, the capital of Latvia. I remember getting it

"It wasn't easy. She worked 8 hours a day and sometimes 10 hours," she said. , Cold. ""

Two years after Brexit's referendum, she returned to Latvia for surgery. There, I was able to easily find a job and build a successful career. She is currently an international issue of the Latvian National Police and owns an apartment in Riga.

Kevin said he understood why Boston was struggling to deal with population growth, so he understood why he was behind Brexit.

"Young people are different from when I am 22," Kravina says. "When I talk to Latvian people about my experience, they say," How did you do that? "