Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Farms to recruit non-EU seasonal workers under long-awaited pilot scheme

Berry picking at Arbuckles Soft Fruit Farm, Invergowrie.
Berry picking at Arbuckles Soft Fruit Farm, Invergowrie.

Desperate farmers will be able to bring in workers from outside the EU under a trial migrant scheme expected to be announced this week.

Soft fruit growers from across Tayside and Fife, which is the hub of the £115m Scots industry, have been pleading with ministers to ease the labour crisis with a revival of a seasonal agricultural workers scheme.

The pilot is to last a minimum of two years and provide an annual temporary workforce to British farms of 2,500.

The scheme is expected to be announced by Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Friday.

Perthshire grower Peter Thomson, of Thomas Thomson, welcomed the development, but feared it may be “too little, too late”.

“There is something like 100,000 seasonal workers needed in horticulture – that’s not a very big answer to the problem,” he added.

Kirstene Hair, the Angus MP, said the trial is a “positive step in the right direction and one I have been long calling for”.

“The pilot will go some way to addressing some of the current shortfall in labour and will be welcomed by the agricultural industry, especially in my constituency of Angus,” the Scottish Tory added.

“However it will need to be adopted fully if labour demand is to be met.”

Growers in Courier Country, who have seen profits slashed, report that tonnes of fruit has been wasted because they have not had enough people to pick it.

They have slammed the UK Government for risking one of Scotland’s success stories by stalling over the return of SAWS, which allowed foreign nationals to come here to work for fixed periods.

It was abandoned in 2013 when farmers were able to recruit from new EU members Bulgaria and Romania.

The number of EU workers available has dried up since then as economies in Eastern Europe improve and rivals on the continent provide better incentives.

Industry bosses have blamed anti-foreigner sentiment associated with Brexit for putting people off wanting to come here, while the number of locals willing to do the job has shrunk year-on-year.

The Courier understands the trial will allow fruit and vegetable farmers to employ migrant workers for a maximum of six months before they must return to their own country.

A UK Government official said the pilot would help in the “short term” during peak production periods, but called on farmers to pursue harvesting technology to reduce the demand on physical labour.

It is not yet known which non-EU countries are involved in the pilot.



Already a subscriber? Sign in



More from The Courier Scottish politics team

More from The Courier