New immigration plan to assist British farmers

A two-year pilot program to support British farmers by allowing non-EU migrant workers to work on farms, then return after six months, has been announced by the Home Secretary and Environment Secretary.

This pilot will ensure British farmers have access to the seasonal labour they need to remain productive and profitable during busy times of the year.

“British farmers are vital to the UK’s economy – and the Government will look to support them in any way we can,” said Home Secretary Sajid Javid. “I am committed to having an immigration system that reduces migration to sustainable levels, supports all industry and ensures we welcome those who benefit Britain.”

The Seasonal Workers pilot will be run by two scheme operators, who will oversee the placement of the workers. The arrangements for selecting the scheme operators will be announced in due course.

To be eligible for the pilot workers must be aged at least 18 years old on the date of application and be from outside of the European Union.

“We have listened to the powerful arguments from British farmers about the need for seasonal labour to keep the horticulture industry productive and profitable,” explained Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

“From lettuce in East Anglia to strawberries in Scotland, we want to make sure that farmers can continue to grow, sell and export more great British food. This two-year pilot will ease the workforce pressures faced by farmers during busy times of the year. We will review the pilot’s results as we look at how best to support the longer-term needs of industry outside the EU.”

Soft fruit production in the UK has grown dramatically, by 130 per cent in the last 20 years. Fruit is grown particularly in the South East (Kent), Midlands (Hereford, Worcestershire and Shropshire) and in Scotland (Perthshire), while field vegetables are grown widely across the UK.

The pilot will commence in the spring of 2019 and will run until the end of December 2020. It will be monitored closely by the Home Office and Defra.

Article published 7th September 2018