NFU Scotland has issued a rallying call for people to assist on farms ahead of the soft fruit season starting in the next few weeks.

Due to the global nature of the Covid-19 pandemic, growers across Scotland remain concerned that it will be extremely difficult to recruit the 10,000 workers that are required annually to undertake seasonal horticultural work.

NFU Scotland is taking the opportunity to promote its recruitment service to any individual who may be out of work or on a temporary furlough period to take up well-paid work in the countryside which will help in the national response to COVID-19.

HMRC this week confirmed in updated guidance that individuals who have been furloughed are able to take up alternative employment on a temporary basis during the period of their furlough if contractually enabled to do so by their employer. 

James Porter, NFU Scotland’s horticultural working group chairman, who farms in Angus, said: “Behind the wonderful produce that comes from Scottish farms is a dedicated and skilled workforce.  In any typical year, 10,000 workers will travel to Scotland from overseas to undertake seasonal work. Due to the global health crisis, growers are naturally concerned that there will be a significant shortfall in workers.

“So that we can ensure that Scotland’s fine offering of soft fruit and vegetables gets into the food supply chain to be enjoyed across the country, we need all hands to the pump if we are to ensure harvesting, packing and distribution can continue.”