Pilot scheme for Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme “a positive step in the right direction”

Local MP, Luke Graham, has welcomed an announcement of a pilot scheme to allow fruit and vegetable farmers to hire workers from out with the EU.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the scheme will provide 2,500 Seasonal Migrant Worker Visas to non-EEA workers.

There are an estimated 75,000 temporary migrant workers in agriculture every summer. The 75,000 figure falls short of the 80,000 workers the industry claims are currently needed and further short of its expected ‘need’ of 95,000 by 2021.

Luke Graham has been campaigning with his Scottish Conservative and Unionist colleague, Kirstene Hair MP, to reintroduce the SAWS since being elected and has been calling on UK ministers to reintroduce the scheme now rather than awaiting MAC report due to the strong evidence which had been brought forward.

The Home Secretary had previously stated he would wait for the recommendations from the Migration Advisory Commission (MAC).

Scottish Conservative MP for Ochil & South Perthshire, Luke Graham, said:

“I am delighted with this boost to our agricultural industry across the UK.

“Following months of campaigning, I am pleased the government have listened to our concerns raised following the steady decline in seasonal workers in recent years.  

“It is certainly a very positive step in the right direction and one for which we have been long calling.

“The pilot will help address some of the current shortfall in agricultural labour and will be welcomed by the agricultural industry, especially in Ochil and South Perthshire. However, it will need to be adopted fully if labour demand is to be met. 

“I hope the government will go a step further, if the pilot proves successful, and ensure a Seasonal Migrant Scheme is introduced fully and with the capacity required to support this iconic British industry.”

"In addition to this scheme, we also need to address underlying problems of why immigrants do not stay in Scotland - it is an issue I have been discussing with Perth & Kinross Council and will be on-going."