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Farmers' fears over new migrant labour shortages

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Paul Brophy, IFA chairman of horticulture and head of Brophy Produce. Photo: Damien Eagers.

Paul Brophy, IFA chairman of horticulture and head of Brophy Produce. Photo: Damien Eagers.

Paul Brophy, IFA chairman of horticulture and head of Brophy Produce. Photo: Damien Eagers.

Issues with attracting migrant labour due to the Covid-19 pandemic could result in "huge challenges" for Irish fruit and vegetable growers, according to the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA).

Paul Brophy, IFA chairman of horticulture and head of Brophy Produce, which grows broccoli in Naas, said farmers would face considerable challenges in growing fruit and vegetables if the pandemic hadn't cleared by June. He said he had heard of some migrants choosing not to leave their countries due to the virus, which was leading to some farmers questioning whether to plant seeds.

Brophy believes issues facing the sector, which typically attracts up to 2,000 workers each year, could immediately affect soft fruit growers, who start picking berries soon.