Up to 30,000 seasonal workers from abroad will be allowed to come to the UK to assist with picking and packing on farms.
The ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign saw 8,000 British citizens make up 11% of the workforce in 2020 according to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), up from 1% in 2019.
However, the government’s extension of the seasonal agricultural workers’ scheme, which will apply to both EU and non-EU workers, will allow three times as many workers as 2020 to come to the UK to pick and pack fruit and vegetables.
The government has also announced their plans to recruit and retain domestic seasonal workers in 2021, while extending the immigration scheme.
Under the scheme, people from overseas will be able to work on farms for up to six months after the Association of Labour Providers (ALP) showed that 70% of farmers and manufacturers expect to struggle to recruit workers in 2021.
Tom Bradshaw, vice president of the NFU, said: “This is welcome and positive news, not just for Britain’s growers but also for shoppers who want to enjoy homegrown fresh produce.
“By expanding the seasonal workers’ pilot, the government is sending a clear message that it is important for Britain to be able to produce its own fruit and veg, which has huge potential for growth.
“This scheme will allow growers to employ seasonal workers at key times to pick a wide variety of fresh produce on British farms.”