Boris Johnson has been urged to introduce “Covid recovery visas” to boost farmworker numbers and prevent crops rotting in the fields.
Conservative Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet) warned one of Britain’s leading glasshouse complexes in his Kent constituency is struggling to find workers.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Roger said: “On this Back British Farming Day, we are in harvest time and all is not safely gathered in.
“In three weeks, Thanet Earth, in my constituency, one of the largest glasshouse companies in the country growing tomatoes, has had to trash £320,000 worth of produce because of no pickers and no drivers.
“Because of a lack of labour force, the crops are rotting in the fields and on our trees.
“Will the Prime Minister seek to introduce immediately a Covid recovery visa, so that this year’s crops are not lost?
Johnson replied: “He is absolutely right in what he says about the importance of buying British and eating British. Our food is the best in the world.
“He is right to address the problem in the supply chain that we are currently seeing but we are taking steps, and of course this has been a problem for a long time, but what we have is the Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme, which we will use to ensure that British farmers get the labour that they need.”
MPs in the chamber could be seen wearing wheat sheaf badges in support of Back British Farming Day.