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Produce growers in sunny south Spain brace for Brexit pain

Published
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, a sub saharan worker collects tomatoes at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

ALMERIA, Spain (AP) — A corner of southern Spain with a sunny desert climate sent about 314,000 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables last year to the United Kingdom, where shoppers are willing to pay more to have out-of-season produce on their tables.

Tomatoes, zucchini, watermelons, cucumbers and lettuce flourish in Spain's southeastern Almeria province when northern Europe still faces weeks or months of winter shivers.

It is a business worth millions of euros every year to Spanish farmers, and Britain's impending departure from the European Union could snatch a lot of it away.

By throwing up borders with the 27 countries remaining in the EU, Brexit could bring long waits for trucks at customs posts while their loads wither or rot.

The prospect of U.K. import tariffs and volatile exchange rates also is setting off alarms among farmers, workers and officials on the Mediterranean coast.  

In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, a Moroccan worker collects zucchinis at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. The plastic covering intensifies and traps the heat while maintaining humidity. That allows farmers in this sunny region to harvest fruit and vegetables one month earlier than they would be able to if they were growing in open fields. It also means farmers can double or even triple the number of harvests per year. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, Moroccan workers collect tomatoes at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, a morrocan worker collects tomatoes at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. The plastic covering intensifies and traps the heat while maintaining humidity. That allows farmers in this sunny region to harvest fruit and vegetables one month earlier than they would be able to if they were growing in open fields. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable  business here.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, Moroccan workers collect tomatoes at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable  business here.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Friday, March 1, 2019 photo, a worker sets a banner of tomatoes as part of an advertising, near Almería city, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable  business here.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Friday, March 1, 2019 photo, Moroccan workers remove the dry leaves before collecting the tomatoes inside a greenhouse in La Canada, a municipality of Almería province, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable  business here.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Sunday, March 3, 2019 photo, a general view of greenhouses known as
In this Sunday, March 3, 2019 photo, a general view of greenhouses known as
In this Friday, March 1, 2019 photo, the sun sets over greenhouses known as
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, Moroccan workers collect zucchinis at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, workers move boxes with tomatoes inside the Gava group warehouse in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable  business here.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, a morrocan worker collects tomatoes at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. The plastic covering intensifies and traps the heat while maintaining humidity. That allows farmers in this sunny region to harvest fruit and vegetables one month earlier than they would be able to if they were growing in open fields. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable  business here.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, a morrocan worker collects tomatoes at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. The plastic covering intensifies and traps the heat while maintaining humidity. That allows farmers in this sunny region to harvest fruit and vegetables one month earlier than they would be able to if they were growing in open fields. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable business here. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Sunday, March 3, 2019 photo, a general view of greenhouses known as
In this Sunday, March 3, 2019 photo, a general view of greenhouses known as "Sea of Plastic" is seen in El Ejido, a municipality of Almería province, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. The plastic covering intensifies and traps the heat while maintaining humidity. That allows farmers in this sunny region to harvest fruit and vegetables one month earlier than they would be able to if they were growing in open fields. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable business here. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Friday, March 1, 2019 photo, a worker sets a banner of tomatoes as part of an advertising, near Almería city, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable  business here.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Friday, March 1, 2019 photo, a worker sets a banner of tomatoes as part of an advertising, near Almería city, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable business here. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, Moroccan workers collect tomatoes at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable  business here.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, Moroccan workers collect tomatoes at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable business here. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, a sub saharan worker collects tomatoes at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, a sub saharan worker collects tomatoes at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, workers move boxes with tomatoes inside the Gava group warehouse in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable  business here.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, workers move boxes with tomatoes inside the Gava group warehouse in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable business here. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Friday, March 1, 2019 photo, the sun sets over greenhouses known as
In this Friday, March 1, 2019 photo, the sun sets over greenhouses known as "Sea of Plastic" in El Ejido, a municipality of Almería province, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. The plastic covering intensifies and traps the heat while maintaining humidity. That allows farmers in this sunny region to harvest fruit and vegetables one month earlier than they would be able to if they were growing in open fields. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable business here. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, Moroccan workers collect zucchinis at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, Moroccan workers collect zucchinis at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, Moroccan workers collect tomatoes at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, Moroccan workers collect tomatoes at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Sunday, March 3, 2019 photo, a general view of greenhouses known as
In this Sunday, March 3, 2019 photo, a general view of greenhouses known as "Sea of Plastic" is seen in El Ejido, a municipality of Almería province, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. The plastic covering intensifies and traps the heat while maintaining humidity. That allows farmers in this sunny region to harvest fruit and vegetables one month earlier than they would be able to if they were growing in open fields. It also means farmers can double or even triple the number of harvests per year. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Friday, March 1, 2019 photo, Moroccan workers remove the dry leaves before collecting the tomatoes inside a greenhouse in La Canada, a municipality of Almería province, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable  business here.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Friday, March 1, 2019 photo, Moroccan workers remove the dry leaves before collecting the tomatoes inside a greenhouse in La Canada, a municipality of Almería province, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Britain's impending departure from the European Union could punch a multi-million-euro hole in the fruit and vegetable business here. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, a Moroccan worker collects zucchinis at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. The plastic covering intensifies and traps the heat while maintaining humidity. That allows farmers in this sunny region to harvest fruit and vegetables one month earlier than they would be able to if they were growing in open fields. It also means farmers can double or even triple the number of harvests per year. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 photo, a Moroccan worker collects zucchinis at the Gava group greenhouses in Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. The plastic covering intensifies and traps the heat while maintaining humidity. That allows farmers in this sunny region to harvest fruit and vegetables one month earlier than they would be able to if they were growing in open fields. It also means farmers can double or even triple the number of harvests per year. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)