Supermarkets face a devastating fruit and veg shortage while crops rot in fields this summer because of government delays in allowing foreign pickers into Britain.

It means delicious foods like strawberries, blueberries, peas and lettuce look likely to decay in fields while shops lack enough stock for customers.

The government has only announced two of four operators for its Seasonal Workers Pilot last week, which was supposed to find the necessary migrant labour to harvest crops.

With the peak of the harvesting season a matter of weeks away, furious MPs have slammed ministers for dragging their feet.

Post-Brexit rules have tightened up visas for seasonal pickers who help get much-loved fruit and veg off the vine and onto the shelves.

Overseas workers account for the vast majority of the agricultural labour force.

fruit pickers
Ministers have failed to finalise the scheme despite the start of the harvest season weeks away

Westminster's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee found that there had been "unacceptable delays" in finalising the scheme.

The result of having fewer workers will be to send British growers to "the bottom of the list," Tory and chair of the committee Neil Parish told The Sun.

He said last night: "We need to get more home-grown labour picking our fruit and veg - but the numbers here are not enough.

empty shelves
MPs say the delays will lead to shortages on the shelves similar to those seen during the stockpiling frenzy at the start of the pandemic

"British Growers have been placed at the bottom of the Home Office's priorities list, and the unnecessary uncertainty could prove costly for producers."

15 per cent of daffodils went unpicked this spring thanks to the same problem, with Parish warning the industry may be short of up to 30,000 workers in summer.

A Defra spokesperson said: "Seasonal workers provide vital labour to ensure that local produce gets onto supermarket shelves.

"We will always back our farmers and growers, and ensure that producers across the UK have the support and workforce that they need.

"This year’s seasonal workers pilot – which has been extended and expanded from 10,000 to 30,000 visas – will continue to support the edible horticulture sector.

"Food and farming businesses will also be able to employ EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status to help meet their labour demand."