A staggering 96% of British growers fear their businesses will be worse off if the government does not replace the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme, an NFU survey has found.

The results come ahead of the Home Office’s expected decision on the future of SAWS, which allows growers to secure seasonal labour from Romania and Bulgaria, in April or May.

Growers have been warning they will not be able to recruit enough seasonal workers if no replacement to SAWS is put in place, and crops could be left to rot.

In the NFU’s survey of 236 growers, 96% said the removal of SAWS would be bad for business, with 65% fearing a “very negative” impact.

Growers placed equal value on having a reliable supply of labour (85%), guaranteed labour for the entire harvest period (85%), high productivity (83%) and positive attitudes of SAWS workers (83%) as well as the flexibility of having workers on site (83%).

“Growers generally couldn’t emphasise enough just how vital a stream of labour this is,” said NFU chief horticulture adviser Hayley Campbell-Gibbons.

The full survey results are out next week.