The Seasonal Agriculture Pilot will be extended into 2021 and expanded with 30,000 visas available next year.
The scheme enables workers to come to the UK from overseas for a non-extendable period of 6 months to harvest and pack edible horticulture.
The expansion of the scheme follows consultation across the sector and recognises the challenges faced in recruiting a sufficiently sizeable domestic workforce in peak season.
In early 2021, Defra will lead a review into automation in horticulture, with a view to considering ways of reducing the UK’s reliance on seasonal migrant labour in the agriculture sector.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said:
“We will always back our farmers and growers, who work hard all year round to provide us with a secure supply of fruit and vegetables.
The measures announced today will provide vital labour, both domestic and from abroad, to our farmers and growers to help gather the 2021 harvest to feed the nation. Our review into automation will pave the way for a pioneering and efficient future for our fruit and vegetable growers.”
The Seasonal Workers Pilot, originally launched in 2019, has been extended and expanded for an additional year with 30,000 visas available for those wanting to come and work on UK farms for a period of up to six months. The workers will play a vital role in helping horticulture growers pick and package their produce in 2021.