LONDON (Reuters) – British fruit and vegetable farmers will be capable of recruit non-European Union migrants on non permanent visas after Brexit to assist ease labour shortages throughout busy durations, the British government stated on Thursday.
Raspberries are picked at a farm in Kent, Britain July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Agriculture depends on EU employees and farmers have warned scarcity of labour since Britain’s 2016 vote to stop the bloc will worsen when freedom of motion guidelines finish, leaving fruit rotting within the fields.
The pilot scheme will run from spring 2019 till the tip of December 2020, in the course of the deliberate transition interval following Britain’s March 2019 EU exit. It will permit 2,500 employees from exterior the EU to come to Britain for as much as six months.
“We have listened to the powerful arguments from farmers about the need for seasonal labour to keep the horticulture industry productive and profitable,” Environment Secretary Michael Gove stated in an announcement.
“This two-year pilot will ease the workforce pressures faced by farmers during busy times of the year. We will review the pilot’s results as we look at how best to support the longer-term needs of industry outside the EU.”
Food manufacturing is Britain’s largest manufacturing sector, with gross sales of 70 billion kilos ($90.52 billion) in 2017, in keeping with the Office for National Statistics.
The National Farmers’ Union stated the announcement was a “major victory”.
“Farmers and growers have seen worker availability tighten significantly in recent years … Growers will take great confidence in knowing that the government is listening during what have been extremely testing and uncertain times for the sector,” NFU President Minette Batters stated in an announcement.
NFU Scotland, a separate organisation, stated it was a step in the precise route however 2,500 visas UK-wide was “significantly short of what is likely to be needed to make a difference to the labour needs of the sector”.
British farmers have lengthy relied on international labour, significantly round harvest time. A Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme was launched shortly after World War Two.
The government ended it in 2013 earlier than Romanians and Bulgarians gained the automated proper to work in Britain, arguing that there have been now sufficient EU employees to fill farm vacancies.
An estimated 27,000 everlasting workers from elsewhere within the EU labored in British agriculture in 2016, in keeping with a House of Commons briefing paper. This determine is swollen at occasions by round 75,000 seasonal employees.
Concerns over immigration have been a key cause for the Brexit vote, however the government has but to set out its plans for a post-Brexit immigration system.
“I am committed to having an immigration system that reduces migration to sustainable levels, supports all industry and ensures we welcome those who benefit Britain,” inside minister Sajid Javid stated.
Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; enhancing by Costas Pitas, Larry King