UK fruit and veg growers can employ up to 2,500 migrants per year

British farmers are to be given the green light to recruit up to 2,500 migrants a year under a new seasonal work scheme, that enables non-EU nationals who come to work on fruit and vegetable farms to stay for six months before returning.

Ministers said the initiative, which will start in spring next year and run until the end of 2020, will help alleviate labour shortages during peak production periods. Industry bodies estimate that the agriculture sector relies on a 75,000-strong temporary migrant workforce.

Unveiling the plans, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “British farmers are vital to the UK’s economy and the Government will look to support them in any way we can. This pilot will ensure farmers have access to the seasonal labour they need to remain productive and profitable during busy times of the year.”

Home Secretary Sajid Javid quoted Environment Secretary Michael Gove as saying that the Government had listened to the powerful arguments from farmers about the need for seasonal labour to keep the horticulture industry productive and profitable.

“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.”

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