NFU urges "substantial" work permit scheme for next year

The NFU has called for a fixed-term permit scheme for seasonal non-EU farm workers to be trialled next year, enabling the sector to readjust to the potential loss of EU migrant labour post-Brexit.

Image: HW
Image: HW

The union was today laying out its priorities for trade and access to labour policies agreed by NFU Council earlier this week following its membership consultation on post-Brexit farming.

Its president Meurig Raymond said: "Access to a flexible and competent workforce is essential to British farming's competitiveness with 80,000 seasonal employees on farm now.

"We are calling for the Government to trial a substantial fixed-term work permit scheme for agriculture and horticulture targeted at non-EU workers during 2017. It is also right that EU workers already in positions have right of residence in the UK. And we'll be holding discussions with the Government on the level of permanent labour and seasonal labour for the medium to long term."

The NFU has also called for British farmers and growers to be given full unfettered access to the single market, and has said it will "work with other UK farming unions and partners across the farming and food chain to achieve this outcome".

Raymond added: "As Brexit negotiations near, we need Government to be acutely aware of what's at stake for British food and farming. If well executed, then the whole of society and the economy can benefit from competitive, profitable and progressive farm businesses."

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