To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of reduced numbers of EU citizens working on UK farms on crop yields in the first six months of 2021; and if he will make a comparative assessment of (a) the number of EU citizens working on UK farms and (b) crop yields in the first six months of 2020 and the first six months of 2021.
Defra continues to work closely with the agriculture sector on its workforce requirements.
Defra makes use of all available information to understand labour demand and supply, considering both permanent and seasonal workforce requirements. This includes engaging closely with farmers, growers and industry bodies to consider the latest data and business intelligence.
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 and EU nationals who have settled status can continue to travel to the UK to do seasonal work in 2021.
Over 5.1 million EU citizens and their families have been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). The application deadline was 30 June 2021 and where a person eligible under the EU Settlement Scheme has reasonable grounds for missing the deadline, they will be given a further opportunity to apply.
In addition to this, the Seasonal Workers Pilot has been expanded for 2021, from 10,000 to 30,000 visas, granted for workers to come to the UK, from EU or non-EU countries, for a period of up to six months to work in the edible horticulture sector.
Defra is also working across Government to ensure there is a long-term evidence-based strategy for the agricultural workforce beyond 2021.
Defra produces crop statistics annually as part of the Agriculture in the UK statistical release. This data does not break down the yields into periods of less than a year, so we do not have the data to respond to part (b).