Farm labour shortage addressed – but is it enough?

Last week the government announced a new nationwide pilot scheme for seasonal agricultural workers from outside EEA countries to come and work in the UK. The scheme is aimed at alleviating the chronic shortage of workers in the farming industry following Brexit. Workers will be allowed to stay for up to 6 months before returning home.

The scheme is capped at 2,500 and will be apart of a 2-year trial starting in spring next year and ending in December 2020.

The National Union of Farmers (NFU) has welcomed the announcement as a “major victory”. The last scheme of this type – Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAWS) that was closed in 2013, allowed 21,250 Romanian and Bulgarian workers to do the same jobs. With some fruit farms employing up to 800 workers at peak times and an industry that employs around 35,000 seasonal workers, 2,500 suddenly doesn’t sound like a workable solution.

With Brexit looming it seems farmers still have little reassurance about their long term labour plans

If you are concerned about how this issue may affect your business please contact our Immigration Team on 020 3818 5433 or by email at