Defra has announced 45,000 visas for seasonal workers will be available to horticulture businesses next year - an uplift of 15,000 compared to what was available to businesses at the start of 2022.
The number will be kept under review with the potential to increase by a further 10,000 if necessary, and contingent on sponsors and growers improving and abiding by to worker welfare standards, including ensuring workers are guaranteed a minimum number of paid hours each week.
The first 4,000 visas will be made available to operators this week to ensure that daffodil growers have the labour available for their harvest at the start of the year
The news was received positively in farming media. BBC Farming Today (at 19 mins, 45 secs) ran a piece with the National Farmers Union’s Tom Bradshaw, who welcomed the move. Elsewhere Farmers Weekly, Horticulture Week, Farmers Guardian, Agriland and Farming UK alongside national coverage in the Sun and the Financial Times.
Welcoming the announcement, Farming Minister Mark Spencer said:
Seasonal labour has long been part of the UK’s rural economy, and while it is right that we offer long term support to increase the use of domestic labour, we also need to support businesses on the back of what has been a challenging year for food producers.
That’s why we’ve listened to the UK’s horticulture sector, and today’s announcement will provide our growers with the labour they need to bring in the harvest and continue to put their produce on our tables.