Defra has unveiled a new route for a further 10,000 farm workers to come to the UK following pressure from the industry and the UK Trade and Business Commission.

The government confirmed that 8,000 fruit and vegetable pickers and 2,000 poultry workers will be given a new visa route for seasonal work. It follows reports that fruit and vegetables are being left unpicked due to an acute labor shortage, while warnings have been raised of a food waste crisis.

Last month, a delegation from the UK Trade and Business Commission visited Winterwood Farms in Maidstone, who told of an 8% drop in crops harvested in 2021 because of fewer EU seasonal workers. As a result, the farm claimed that fewer home-grown British produce is ending up on shelves and are being replaced by more expensive, inferior imports.

MPs who are members of the UK Trade and Business Commission, which was launched last year to scrutinize the UK’s post-Brexit trade deals, wrote to Defra Secretary George Eustice to raise concerns around investment in UK food production, food security, and food waste during a cost of living crisis.

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