Thousands of daffodils could be left rotting in Cornish fields after freedom of movement ends on January 1 if an army of pickers are not allowed into the county.
Daffodil farmer James Hosking of Fentongollan Farm, who farms 2000 acres on and around the Tregothnan Estate and the Roseland Peninsula, told BBC South West political editor Martyn Oates on Spotlight this morning: “If the labour situation isn’t sorted out we know that actually that means we will not be able to harvest most of our crops. If we can’t harvest most of our crops we have no business, it’s as simple as that.”
He says it’s unclear how he will access labour when Brexit transition period ends in January – coinciding with the start of the daffodil-picking season.
Freedom of movement ends with the transition period on January 1. The government has been piloting a Season Agricultural Workers Scheme allowing farmers to access some foreign labour but has so far restricted it to edible crops.
Derek Thomas MP for St Ives told Mr Oates: “Four weeks from now we need 2,700 pickers in Cornwall to pick daffodils. At the moment we’re not sure how that’s going to work.
“My warning to George Eustice [Environment Secretary and fellow Cornish MO] is that potentially six weeks from now he and I will be driving around our constituencies seeing the area which grows the world’s largest supply of daffodils with fields awash with daffodils and that is not going to be good for us”
Cornwall is the world’s biggest producer of daffodils and traditionally the first place in the UK that they bloom.