Scotland's vegetable growers experience labor shortages

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More criticism has been lodged at the United Kingdom government's changes to the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS), this time from Alistair Ewan, the director of East of Scotland Growers (ESG).

"Basically, there have not been sufficient numbers of people coming from Europe," said Ewan. "We shall be campaigning to re-open the doors to other countries. We are not bringing in long-term migrants. SAWS was an extremely successful scheme and the government has destroyed it by limiting it to EU countries."

ESG is not alone in their wish for the Home Office to reverse the changes to SAWS. The National Farmers Union (NSU) recently said they would consider legal action in response to the changes.

Originally planned to be terminated completely, the program was kept on for nationals of Romania and Bulgaria when they joined the European Union on 01 January 2007.

The program, first instituted in the 1940s, previously allowed people from non-EU nations to come to the UK temporarily to make money -- and in the case of students studying agriculture -- gain valuable experience.

The loss of cauliflower and broccoli crops were narrowly averted only by moving members of ESG from farm to farm as the harvest arrived, according to Ewan.

Cauliflower and broccoli are not the only crops feeling left out in the cold. An extreme shortage of skilled tractor drivers is being felt as well.

Bruce Hamilton, manager of Tayforth Ring, said he has never experienced such a shortage.

"The main demand for skilled tractor drivers is from potato growers and merchants who now operate with large harvesting set ups. With two harvesters in a field, there is also a need for another three or four drivers with trailers to take the potatoes back to store," Hamilton said.