Agriculture: Employment

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 30th April 2008.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Labour, Stroud

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to review labour strategies for farm work, with particular reference to the supply of farm labour from overseas.

Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs) and Minister for the South East), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government fully appreciates the importance for agriculture and horticulture of the supply of labour from overseas. The expansion of the EU has opened up a wide labour market. The Accession Monitoring Report for the period May 2004 to December 2007 records that more than 77,000 workers from the new EU Accession States have registered under the Worker Registration Scheme to take up work in agriculture.

The Government are also aware of the importance of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) to help out at peak times during the year. The Minister responsible for SAWS at the Home Office, my hon. Friend the Minister for Borders and Immigration, and I recently had a useful meeting with the National Farmers' Union and representatives of SAWS operators at which we discussed the labour needs of the industry and the challenges facing it for the future. We shall continue to keep in touch with the Home Office and the industry on these issues and will consider whether any review of policy is necessary.

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