Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Mixed farming reaction to Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme extension

NFU Scotland says plans to dismantle SAMW will be a blow to Scottish growers.

Confirmation the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) will run until 2024 has met mixed reaction from farming leaders.

The UK Government confirmed the scheme, which allows foreign workers to come to the UK for up to six months to pick both edible and ornamental crops, will run until the end of 2024.

It said 30,000 visas will be available next year, with the option to increase by 10,000 if necessary, however the scheme will taper down from 2023 onwards and growers will be required to improve pay and conditions for workers.

The Government has also called on the sector to do more to attract UK worker through offering training, career options, wages increases, and to invest in increased automation technology.

Immigration Minister Kevin Foster said: “The extension to the seasonal worker visa route strikes the right balance of supporting the industry while it transitions to employing and prioritising domestic workers.”

The NFU south of the border welcomed confirmation SAWS will continue and said growers will be extremely relieved to have clarity over the future of the scheme for the next three years.

The union’s vice-president Tom Bradshaw said: “We have worked very closely with ministers and officials to secure the additional visas and the inclusion of ornamentals, which is something we have been calling for and is desperately needed for flower and plant growers across the country.

“With labour shortages so rife across the entire food supply chain, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and continue to engage with the government on the sector’s needs.”

However, NFU Scotland (NFUS) said it was “deeply disappointing” news for fruit and vegetable growers and plans to dismantle the scheme from 2023 would be a blow for future production.

NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy.

NFUS president, Martin Kennedy, said labour shortages – estimated to be around 20% on Scottish farms – and government delays introducing SAWS led to significant crop losses and millions of pounds of wastage.

He added: “Indications are that Scotland will produce a lot less fruit and veg next year and an announcement that will initially keep the number of seasonal visas for the UK static at 30,000 will not improve that picture.”

Mr Kennedy said NFUS, together with the NFU in England, had asked for the scheme to be extended to 55,700 visas for 2022.

He added: “For only 30,000 to be offered at the outset in 2022 is a big disappointment.”

Mr Kennedy also questioned Government calls for growers to recruit more domestic workers to pick fruit and vegetables and said one Scottish grower who offered 100 contracts of employment to UK applicants in September, had only six contracts accepted and only three turn up for work.

He added: “Failure to secure UK workers is not for want of trying.”

Scots farmers try to limit ‘disaster’ as labour crisis costs veg growers more than £2m

Already a subscriber? Sign in