Farmers need better access to seasonal workers

I met the Immigration Minister, Seema Kennedy MP, on 12 September, to raise concerns from farmers about the shortage of seasonal workers.

We were joined in the Home Office by representatives from the NFU, who put across a strong case for increasing the number of migrant workers currently able to enter the country under the pilot seasonal agricultural workers scheme.

Many fruit and vegetable farmers have been reporting problems recruiting the seasonal workers they need over the past couple of seasons.

The Government responded to these concerns with the introduction of the pilot seasonal agricultural workers scheme earlier this year. Whilst this was a good start, the pilot scheme is limited to 2,500 workers which has meant it has had very little impact in addressing the immediate shortage of labour.

A permanent scheme with a much higher quota on the number of seasonal workers would help address the shortage of labour and provide a much-needed confidence boost to the fruit and vegetable sector.

The British fruit and vegetable sector is a great success and must not be held back because of a shortage of labour.