More seasonal workers to support farmers

Farmers this year will be able to recruit more workers on a temporary basis from outside the EU.

I’m pleased the Government will be increasing the pilot Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme to 10,000 workers in 2020 – an increase from 2,500 workers last year.

This will support our vital horticulture sector and give fruit and vegetable growers access to a much bigger pool of workers to help with this year’s harvest

I met the new Defra Secretary, George Eustice MP, earlier this month to press the need for better access to seasonal workers from abroad. I’ll be working hard to make sure Kent farmers get their share of these additional workers.

Soft fruit production is a great British success story – it has grown by 185 per cent between 1998 and 2018, with much of this increase seen in Kent. The expansion of the pilot scheme will support these farmers over this year’s busy summer harvest, while allowing the Government to test the pilot further.

A permanent scheme is still needed to give farmers the confidence to invest and plan for the future. This is something I’ll continue to call for ahead of our new immigration policy being introduced next year.