The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland.
As Britain tiptoes cautiously towards leaving the European Union, there is concern about the impact of Brexit on the farming industry if free movement of Europeans is restricted as part of the negotiations. In Britain, 90% of fruit and vegetables are currently picked and packed by overseas workers.
The National Farmers Union has called for a special arrangement for short-term workers amid growing concerns over crops being left to rot on British farms because of a shortage of labor.
A nationwide pilot to bring migrant workers to UK farms has been announced by the Home Secretary and Environment Secretary.
This spring in the United Kingdom launched a two-year pilot project aimed at attracting seasonal workers to the agricultural sector from outside the European Union.
The concept of a new visa program is that non-EU citizens can relatively easily obtain a temporary UK work visa and work on British farms for six months. As part of the pilot phase, designed for 2 years, it is planned to attract 2,500 seasonal foreign workers each year.
As the Minister of Internal Affairs of the United Kingdom Sajid Javid stated, the need to create a separate visa program for seasonal agricultural workers is related to the fact that over the past 20 years, the production of berries and fruits in the country increased by 130%. However, the agricultural sector is experiencing a catastrophic decline in the number of workers, including due to too stringent visa rules, effectively excluding the UK from the list of countries where foreigners go for seasonal work.
It should be noted that the format of the pilot project was extremely disliked by the UK farming community. The producers of berries, fruits and vegetables were literally outraged by the fact that only 2,500 workers per year could take advantage of the preferential entry scheme.
“2500 will have a negligible impact on the current labor shortage experienced by British farms. The annual need for workers in the horticultural sector is 60,000 people. Of these, only 29,000 workers pick berries. With the existing staff shortage of 20% of the required number, we need not 2500, but 10,000, and even better 20,000 people! “