NFU chief horticulture adviser Phil Hudson says the Conservatives are not sure what they are doing over the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) review.
Hudson said the worker issue had got mixed up with the asylum issue, which Conservative leader Michael Howard has been aggressive on during the election campaign, which culminates today.
Hudson said the Tories would end the SAWS if they came to power. Labour has also pledged to end the scheme, which Hudson says is invaluable in providing growers with staff.
He added that the Tories have since told the NFU it may not end the scheme. And Lord Whitty told the union Labour would start a consultation on the scheme after the election — which Hudson says is backtracking on the party’s manifesto promise. He added: “The scheme should remain. We will remind Labour of that after 5 May, should they get back in.”
Hudson also expressed concern over politicians’ lack of financial help for students and colleges. The Liberal Democrat party has said in its manifesto it will help students go to colleges. Hudson said: “The Lib Dems could help students by getting rid of top-up fees. But we need to make horticulture more attractive to students.”
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