Unless you are the wonderful Emma Raducanu or Leylah Fernandez, hard work, mental toughness and talent will only get you so far.

You need to be playing a game where the rules are not designed to make you fail. Watching two teenagers smack a tennis ball at each other with everything they had and not a care in the world, this week, it struck me how free they were to pursue victory and may the best woman win. It was mesmerising and beautiful to watch.

If you work in the production and supply of food, the field of play and the rules of engagement are not quite so simple, and some of the latest rules are artificially designed to make you fail. I hesitate to use the word crisis, given how dire things are in other parts of the world, but it is becoming clear to all with eyes to see that a major supply chain crisis is looming on these shores.

All summer long, there have been half empty shelves of fresh produce in supermarkets and the problems with freezing broccoli were well documented in this paper last week, with East of Scotland Growers, one of Scotland’s few successful co-operatives, losing close to £2m worth of produce because the freezers are full, and lorry drivers are not available to take the produce onwards.

The problem is not just in the frozen aisle. Fresh cauliflowers are difficult to find on some supermarket shelves, despite it being the middle of the Scottish cauliflower season.

The level-headed chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, James Withers, speaking to the Rural Affairs Committee a couple of weeks ago, gave compelling and comprehensive evidence that these labour shortages were being felt not just in veg production, but throughout the supply chain, from pickers to packers and butchers to distributors to hospitality.

When Macdonald’s runs out of milkshakes and Nando’s are forced to close outlets because of a lack of chicken, government should take notice. These are not fly-by-night companies short on resources – if they are struggling, what do they think it is like for all the small and medium-sized businesses throughout the food chain?

All requests to look at increasing numbers on seasonal workers for next year are met with the stock response from ‘a government spokesperson’ that we need to employ local people and use robotics, neither of which are realistic propositions. Many in the UK government, including the Cabinet, know and privately acknowledge that fact.

The latest line from UK government (reported last week) was that only two-thirds of the 30,000 seasonal workers permits had been used was a downright lie. We predicted they would use this tactic in the spring when the new operators were announced at the last minute, giving them no time to recruit the numbers needed for the soft fruit season.

Yet despite that, if you speak to the operators directly, as NFUS have, almost all the allocated permits will be used by the end of the year and uptake is currently well over the two-thirds claimed by the government.

Widespread frustration at the refusal of the UK government to address this increasing shortage of seasonal workers is turning to cold, hard anger at the wilful and cloth-eared negligence from the Home Office.

By the time you read this, NFUS president, Martin Kennedy and team will have been down to Westminster this week to try and engage directly with MPs. I hope they listened to them and put pressure on government to change tack, because the number of settled and pre-settled workers willing to come to the UK for seasonal and other work is going to reduce next year – and the shortages in labour, and consequently food, are going to get worse, not better.

I only found out one reason for this last week, as some of my Bulgarian staff told me they are heading off to Spain to pick oranges.

The wage there is much less, but they are unable to access benefits in Bulgaria during the winter unless they have been working in the EU. There might also be double taxation issues for pre-settled workers from the EU coming to work here.

In any case, the pool of available workers through this route is going to naturally reduce as they seek full time work in the UK.

Could there be a silver lining in all of this for food producers? Might the shortage of labour restrict production and lead to higher prices?

Possibly, but I wouldn’t bank on it, as retailers will look increasingly to cheaper imports as an alternative and with a New Zealand trade deal imminent, it would be hard for UK government to deny they are thinking the same.

If they are and they want affordable UK food production to continue, an urgent reassessment of the Shortage Occupation List and the Seasonal Worker Pilot might be a good idea.

Let us leave this tawdry tale and finish with the happy one we started with. Emma Raducanu has a Chinese mother and a Romanian father. Leylah Fernandez has a Philipino mother and an Ecuadorian father. The UK and Canada rightly and proudly claim them as their own.

I have had decent, hard-working men and women from 10 different countries (including Scotland) on my farm this summer, filling jobs that nobody else is either able or wants to do. They are well paid, and in turn they are paying Income Tax and National Insurance.

They might not be as talented as Emma or Leylah, but can anyone tell me why they should not be just as equally valued by this country and treated with the same respect and admiration for their dedication and resilience?

Without them, the food aisles of the supermarkets would not even be half empty.