To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that the food and farming sector has sufficient access to labour in order to sustain British food production (a) now and (b) in the future.
Defra understands the importance of labour in supporting a successful and effective agricultural sector, and is considering how best to support the needs of the sector both before and after the UK withdraws from the EU.
We have announced that the Government will introduce a new pilot scheme for 2019 and 2020, enabling up to 2,500 non-European Economic Area migrant workers to come to the UK to undertake seasonal employment in the edible horticultural sector.
Defra is also working closely with the Home Office to ensure that there is a long term strategy for the food and farming workforce as part of the future immigration policy.
Defra is working with industry to raise awareness of the career opportunities within the agriculture and food industry to attract domestic workers, and is exploring the potential for innovation and automation in meeting future labour demands.