The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme operated successfully from 1945 until 2013. It was closed following the accession to the EU of Romania and Bulgaria which meant there was a sufficient supply of labour from EU nationals.
Following the decision to close the scheme in 2013, Defra established the SAWS Transition Working Group, now called the Seasonal Workforce Working Group. This group meets regularly and brings industry and government together to monitor the seasonal labour situation across the UK. The farming industry reported that in the third quarter of 2016, labour recruitment was more challenging than in previous years.
The Secretary of State has made clear that the government is giving consideration to what replacement arrangements might be necessary after the UK leaves the European Union to ensure that the farming industry has access to the labour it requires.