Agriculture and Processed Food: Seasonal Workers

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 29 September 2020.

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Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what provision they plan to make (1) in 2021, and (2) in later years, for the recruitment of seasonal workers in (a) agriculture, (b) horticulture, and (c) food-processing.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government knows how important seasonal workers are to our farmers and growers and to the food-processing sector, supporting the growth and prosperity of our farming, fisheries and food and drink sectors by helping to ensure that produce is picked and processed.

In 2021 and beyond, agricultural businesses will continue to be able to rely on EU nationals living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status - around 3.5 million EU citizens and their families have been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme - and there will continue to be other flexibility in the system.

Defra has been encouraging the horticulture sector to employ domestic workers, which has been supported by the 'Pick for Britain' campaign this year. This was a joint Defra and industry initiative to support the recruitment of British workers to help with this year's harvest during the Covid-19 pandemic. We will take lessons from this campaign to help inform the future needs of the sector.

The Seasonal Workers Pilot has operated in 2019 and 2020 and allowed the recruitment of up to 10,000 non-EEA seasonal workers this year. The Pilot will run until the end of December 2020 when the new points-based immigration system will come into force. The Pilot will be evaluated ahead of any decisions being taken on how future needs of the sector will be addressed.

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