Rural business leaders have called on MPs to back a new seasonal workers scheme which allows migrant workers access to vital jobs across the rural economy.
Responding to a government inquiry on immigration, the CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses said the sector needs certainty and that a new scheme should be put in place immediately and not wait until the UK leaves the EU to avoid reduced productivity and investment.
CLA President Ross Murray said: “Farms and other rural businesses need to know that after Brexit there will still be a flexible, skilled and secure workforce so they can plan for the future, invest in their businesses and secure or create jobs.
“To meet the labour needs of the rural economy we are calling on MPs to back a seasonal agricultural workers scheme which would allow migrants of both EU and non-EU countries to enter the UK for a set period of time and for a specific job but with no right to remain afterwards.
“Similar schemes have worked well in the past in agriculture and will help farmers to keep producing the food we eat, to run viable businesses, and to continue creating job opportunities year in and year out.
“The rural economy is already at risk due to labour shortage so it is vital the Government introduces a scheme immediately rather than after Brexit. Without access to migrant labour productivity and growth will be affected and it could lead to increased food imports and prices.”
The CLA has also called for the Government to confirm the status of EU migrant workers in sectors such as food production, horticulture and tourism already resident in the UK and provide a clear framework on how that longer term workforce should be allowed to enter the UK labour market and remain permanently.