AIMS calls for changes to seasonal agriculture scheme
The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) is calling on the Government to extend the rules for seasonal agricultural workers coming to the UK from just fruit and vegetable pickers to staff working in turkey processing sites in the run up to Christmas.
The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published the ‘Coming to the UK for seasonal agricultural work’ report in the summer to provide information for workers coming to England to pick fruit and vegetables and their employers.
However, AIMS says that, as in previous years, many turkey farmers and processing businesses now need to bring in skilled labour from the EU for the seven weeks from November to mid-December.
“We are asking for the Government to urgently update the rules for seasonal agricultural workers to include short-stay turkey processing workers. Time is running out…”
Norman Bagley, head of policy at AIMS, said: “We have members who have employed the same people year on year. These skilled staff travel from countries such as Slovakia and Poland to live and work on the farms, processing turkey for our country’s annual Christmas celebrations.
“In the case of the fruit and vegetable pickers they are allowed to include their 14-day self-isolation period within their work schedule providing that they live on the farm. Our members have told us that they too provide on-farm accommodation and will also ensure that the staff have been tested for coronavirus before they arrive in the UK as well as having provision to test once they are here.
“We are asking for the Government to urgently update the rules for seasonal agricultural workers to include short-stay turkey processing workers. Time is running out, travel plans need to be made, turkey farmers need to know that the labour is available and farmers customers, be they shops, caterers or the public through direct sales need to be confident that their annual Christmas turkey will be available.”