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Medway fruit growers AC Goatham & Son appeal for seasonal workers amid Brexit uncertainty

A Medway-based fruit grower is appealing for seasonal workers to help with this year's harvest.

This week, the government announced an overhaul to immigration rules, introducing a points-based system.

Kent farmers fear for their business after announcement of new immigration system

The announcement on Wednesday caused some concern, particularly among farmers and those in the care sector.

The new system is due to be enforced from January 1 next year, when the UK officially leaves the EU.

Fruit producers in Kent rely heavily on seasonal migrant labour for picking fruit.

Some fear tougher targets set out by the government could act as a deterrent to EU nationals.

AC Goatham & Son have 25 farms in Kent.
AC Goatham & Son have 25 farms in Kent.

One firm which relies on seasonal workers is AC Goatham & Son, which is based in Hoo, and this week appealed for people to help hand-pick apples and pears on the firm's 25 farms across the county.

The harvest begins in August and continues through September to mid-October.

It is also looking for people to help with packing at the headquarters at Flanders Farm in Hoo.

AC Goatham & Son's average seasonal worker gets paid £9.45 an hour.

AC Goatham & Son’s commercial director, Carol Ford.
AC Goatham & Son’s commercial director, Carol Ford.

Carol Ford, the company's commercial director, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for those people aged 18 and over who are happy to work outdoors and who are strong and motivated to work hard.

"We have been visiting school and industry careers fairs to encourage young people to consider fresh produce as an industry for them and to highlight the seasonal jobs which are a stepping-stone to other roles available within our business, as well as the other career opportunities in fresh produce and horticulture.

"Some of our senior team began their careers picking fruit and it is a terrific way to gain valuable work experience, on the job training, to be rewarded well and have the opportunity to work as part of a team.”

A survey by the NFU last year revealed how worker shortages meant fruit was left unpicked and estimated that more than 1,000 tonnes of apples had been left to rot – the equivalent of 16 million apples.

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