MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee have called on Ministers to introduce a new Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme in a report on future immigration policy.
The report will now be sent to the Government, which must respond to the recommendations in it within two months.
Although the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee had already expressed concern about a shortage of seasonal labour on farms, this is the first time the Home Affairs Committee, which scrutinises the work of the Home Office, has made such a recommendation.
The Home Affairs Committee report did not discuss the need to fill permanent vacancies on farm.
It read: “The Government should consider a new Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme as there is already evidence that access to UK and EEA labour markets is insufficient to meet current demand.
“The objective of any such scheme would be to meet labour and skills shortages in the sector.”
The committee also found, through its work with British Future on a ‘National Conversation on Immigration’, that despite public concern about ‘low skilled’ migration, people supported the idea of allowing migrants to take roles they did not want, such as seasonal farm work.
The findings were the result of 60 ‘citizens’ panels’, held in every nation and region of the UK, in which people were asked detailed questions about their attitudes to immigration policy.
Online surveys and opinion polling were also taken into account.