UK Minsters announce post-Brexit immigration scheme for farm workers
UK ministers have announced a new scheme which will allow British farms to employ immigrant workers after Brexit.
The initiative – which will run between Spring 2019 and December 2020 – is designed to prevent labour shortages during busy periods for the farming industry.
The pilot will make working visas available for up to 2,500 workers and will last for six months. Ministers warned it will be stopped if migrants are found to be staying longer than their visa allows.
Farmers have reported a massive slowdown in EU labour in harvesting since the Brexit referendum.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: "We have listened to the powerful arguments from farmers about the need for seasonal labour to keep the horticulture industry productive and profitable.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid added: "This pilot will ensure farmers have access to the seasonal labour they need to remain productive and profitable during busy times of the year."
The move comes after rural MPs and the National Farmers Union warned that shortages of immigrant labour meant produce was being left to rot in fields.
President of the National Farmers' Union, Minette Batters, welcomed the news saying it would provide some reassurance to after "extremely testing and uncertain times".
She added that the scheme was a "recognition from the government that British horticulture is a successful, thriving sector which faces some unique challenges but is capable of producing more great, healthy British fruit and vegetables".