It was all going so well too – a week of perfect harvest conditions and the sheds were full to the brim with seed wheat and barley, straw baled in the fields, Red Start hybrid brassica sown.

Our son, Tom, fresh out of school and with a place waiting for him at Newcastle University, was placed in charge of the grain drier so that I could do other things. I was pretty sure I had explained all of the intricate workings of the drier to him (put the grain in here, it comes out there, check moisture, when the silo is full close that slide and the grain will drop into the next silo, and Bob’s your uncle).

Naturally, an hour or two later came the anguished call from my horrified son – I had forgotten to tell him to close the inspection hatch on the second silo before he started filling it and the grain was pouring out of the door. Seven tonnes of perfectly dried seed wheat was lying in a guilty, gleaming, inaccessible pile on the concrete in between the silos. There were no recriminations on either side, both of us realising this was a '50/50', plus my philosophy on management is praise the good, ignore the bad (within reason).

It was quite late in the day and rain was threatening, but this being a fruit farm, we are fortunate to have many willing hands around (for how much longer?) so there was an international flavour to the clean up operation which followed – two Ukrainians, a Romanian, a Latvian and two embarrassed Scotsmen all stoically working together.

Somehow, what looked like a nightmare became a special moment as we all shoveled away furiously, laughing and joking. I was almost glad it happened. These good people are going to be hugely missed when they are gone.

Having said that, my grasp of Eastern European languages consists of hello and thank you, so they might well have been cursing me behind the smiles, particularly when I suggested this was a great team building exercise, just like the good old days of farming.

Despite our best efforts to persuade the government to act, the labour situation is incredibly precarious. Our backs are against the wall and the blindfold is about to go on. Have we any last words before the coup de grace?

The Home Secretary Priti Patel met Ali Capper, NFU Horticulture Chair, and Chris Newnham, of Tiptree Farms (home of the famous jam), at Chris’ farm last Friday. Chris is a constituent of Ms Patel. The good news was that the Home Secretary accepted the need for a migrant labour workforce and said she was willing to put practical solutions in place.

Apparently, she also accepted that the labour market should be based on manual skills, as well as academic ones. The bad news was that she was dead against the leave to remain granted previously and was determined to end freedom of movement, even for existing migrant labour on October 31.

What does this mean for existing permanent migrant workers? It’s too early to say, given the suggested legal challenges, but she is clearly not rolling out the welcome mat.

The industry has asked for an immediate extension of the SWS Pilot Scheme to 70,000 work permits (EU and Non-EU) and to open to direct employers as well as labour providers. This should include all sectors of agriculture, not just fruit and veg. There should be no need for a formal visa at great expense – a simple workcard should suffice, as it does in Germany.

Harvest and packhouse workers should be included on the shortage occupation list (SOL) in a new immigration policy. If government fails to do this, they should be prepared to compensate businesses for crop loss and business failure, because that is what will happen.

Ali and I have liaised closely over the past three years on this issue along with the rest of the horticultural industry, but it now feels a bit like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, cornered in the house by the Bolivian Army with nowhere left to go and nothing to lose. It has been incredibly frustrating to speak to a long list of government ministers and MPs, who accept our case for permanent and seasonal workers, yet who are unable or unwilling to put the mechanisms in place to solve the problem. Enough is enough.

The Home Secretary has two weeks as of last Friday to give us proper solutions to this existential threat to horticulture. If we don’t have answers by then, we are coming out, guns blazing.

NFUS' 'Shelfwatch' on lamb has shown a good response from the supermarkets, with the majority selling almost all British when appropriate. I think it is time for the same approach on fruit and veg.

Why are we importing sugar snap peas from Peru and fresh beans from Kenya in August? It must be due to the lower cost of labour and because it can be transported easily without damage.

In season, soft fruit has managed to hold the line up to now because the shopper won’t accept imports in season and the flavour and quality is markedly better than imports, but that can change if the price rises significantly.

My brother told me about a conversation he had recently with a journalist in a London pub. The wine was flowing and after the journo had returned from a fag out the back (£10.40 for 20), and ordered another glass of sauvignon blanc (£8) she tried to make the argument that blueberries are expensive.

When the cost of her glass of wine was pointed out to her, she replied: “Yes, but then again you can’t get drunk on blueberries.” Which is a fair point – escapism is at a premium these days. If I had been there, I would have suggested that blueberries for breakfast are an excellent cure for a hangover, so she should be thinking of them as part of a package.

Unlike strawberries, blueberries are not yet recognized by the public as having a local season, but that may come. When we first sold strawberries to supermarkets, 25% of strawberries in the UK summer were imported and now it is next to nothing between April and October. The soft fruit industry found ways to extend season and ensure continuity and quality.

This should be a model for all fruit and veg in the future. It is the best way to ensure an environmentally friendly, safe and secure supply of fresh fruit and veg. Of course, it’s only possible if farmers are able to employ seasonal and permanent migrant workers to harvest the crop in premium condition.