Romanian workers flown in to help British farmers as industry struggles to employ locals

PUBLISHED: 17:52 15 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:05 16 April 2020

Worker picks raspberries in a fruit field at Boxford Suffolk Farms, in Suffolk, England.  (AP Photo/Leonora Beck)

Worker picks raspberries in a fruit field at Boxford Suffolk Farms, in Suffolk, England. (AP Photo/Leonora Beck)

AP/Press Association Images

Up to 180 Romanian workers are being urgently flown in as pickers to help farmers across Britain after it emerged that not enough Britons registered to work on farms.

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In a telling sign of the conundrums the country faces with a points-based immigration system that overlooks the value low-skilled labour, a plane filled with Eastern European workers is being rushed in to assist farmers in the South-East of the UK and Lincolnshire to stop precious food from rotting after they struggled to employed locals, despite employment levels reaching an all-time high.

The chartered Boeing 737 flight, which is the first of six to take place over the coming months by Air Charter Service, will depart from Bucharest and land at Stanstand airport on Thursday.

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The Country Land & Business Association has said that travel restrictions have made farming impossible because overseas workers are unable to fill rising vacancies.

This move comes as the government reaffirmed that it would not seek an extension to trade talks with the EU. The country also faces the worst economic crisis of a lifetime with the impacts of Coronavirus set to shrink the economy by 35% and drive unemployment to 10% of the total working population.

Before Christmas the British Meat Processor Association warned that EU labour shortages would threaten the supply of essential festive food, with rural locations finding it difficult to attract additional staff. One pub chain temporarily took pigs in blankets off the menu due to a shortage of the food.

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