According to an industry lobbyist, an announcement from the British government on an expanded Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme for the horticultural sector could be imminent. National Farmers’ Union vice-president, Tom Bradshaw, has stated he believes that after months of lobbying for a “dramatically expanded” scheme, one could be forthcoming .
“We believe we will have an expanded scheme for next year, but we’re working with a government that doesn’t have to listen because it’s a very powerful government,” Bradshaw said. “I can only reassure you the case has been made.”
However, Bradshaw said the unemployment fallout from the pandemic meant the government would also expect growers to utilise British labour to supplement recruitment from overseas, adding that the industry would have to think how it could best utilise some of that resource.
“We need to learn lessons from the Pick for Britain campaign,” he said. “There were some successes, and some businesses early in the season had nearly a third of their workers from the UK workforce. We’re working with the horticulture board (AHDB) on what a campaign could look like next year, and also how to target the people who worked out last year.”