The UK Government has tripled the number of workers employers can recruit from overseas to work on UK farms in 2021, it has been revealed.
Under the Seasonal Workers Pilot, 30,000 visas are now available to overseas talent seeking agricultural and horticultural work for a period of up to six months.
Extending and expanding the scheme, the Government said the new visas will support rural economies and help plug the gap in migrant labour after the Brexit transition period came to an end on 1 January.
The initiative comes after consultation with the sector and key agricultural bodies, including the National Farmers Unions (NFU) and the Association of Labour Providers.
Commenting on the scheme, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay MP said: “Farmers and growers play a crucial role throughout the year in providing fresh British quality produce for the public. We are determined to support our farming sector as we leave the EU, and to reduce the food miles of food in our shops as part of our wider commitment to the environment.
“Extending this pilot for another year and expanding its size show that we are continuing to listen and respond constructively to our farming sector as they prepare for next year’s crop.”
NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw added: “This is welcome and positive news, not just for Britain’s growers but also for shoppers who want to enjoy home-grown fresh produce.
“By expanding the Seasonal Workers Pilot, the Government is sending a clear message that it is important for Britain to be able to produce its own fruit and veg, which has huge potential for growth. This scheme will allow growers to employ seasonal workers at key times to pick a wide variety of fresh produce on British farms.”