International sheep shearers – particularly those from Australia and New Zealand – are being given special dispensation to enter the UK to work with contractors this summer.
The concession, won by the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) , is intended to ensure the national flock will be shorn by professional and experienced shearers as usual.
NAAC chief executive Jill Hewitt said: “It is a big relief that the concession is now in place and we can start putting together the necessary paperwork for shearers to safely enter the UK”.
However, NAAC warns that regular shearers from other countries will be unable to travel because of Covid restrictions, so farmers are being urged to get in touch with their shearers as soon as possible to plan work and ensure the season can run as smoothly as possible.
A Covid shearing checklist has been published to ensure that shearers, wool handlers and farmers can operate safely and maintain high animal welfare standards. Actions include shearers travelling to jobs in their own vehicles wherever possible and if their are accommodated on farms, ensuring physical distancing is in place.
A minimum of 2m separation should also be observed wherever possible, vehicle cabs should be disinfected between users, and the minimum number of people should employed to undertake the job.
The new conditions for international shearers mean those coming from the antipodes will be able to travel to the UK between April 1 – June 30 for a maximum period of three months..
Shearers arriving in the UK will need to satisfy an immigration officer they are here, for a temporary period only, to be employed as a sheep shearer, and have a contract of employment.
The NAAC is supplying its members with the necessary paperwork to smooth the entry process.