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Members' Business — S6M-10392 Kate Forbes: Rural Visa Pilot Scheme

Wednesday 27 September 2023 6:23 PM


That the Parliament recognises what it sees as the vital importance of seasonal and migrant workers to Scotland’s £15 billion food and drink industry and the wider rural economy; appreciates the need for businesses to have access to the workforce that they require to carry out what it sees as their invaluable work in providing world-class produce; recognises the view expressed by NFU Scotland that, "The labour shortages encountered across the whole chain in 2021 – on farm, haulage, processing and packing – coupled with the Government’s late delivery of the seasonal worker pilot scheme led to significant crop losses and millions of pounds of wastage"; understands that employers in the UK have found it difficult to source domestic labour to take up seasonal employment on farms, and that, in 2020, despite the widely publicised Pick for Britain campaign, UK residents made up only 11% of this workforce, and domestic recruitment in 2021 was at 5% for Scotland; notes previous reports that the East of Scotland Growers, the UK’s biggest brassica producer, incurred losses of 3.5 million heads of broccoli and 1.5 million heads of cauliflower due to labour shortages; further notes that Seafood Scotland has stated that, within seafood processing, there was a considerable reliance on a predominantly Eastern European workforce; understands that these workers comprised 52% of the rural workforce across Scotland, 69% in the north east, and up to 92% in certain processing facilities; notes the recent reports of businesses in Fort William, Portree and elsewhere in Highlands struggling to find staff; welcomes what it sees as the invaluable contribution that seasonal and migrant workers make to Scotland's society and economy, and notes the calls for the UK Government to urgently review its position on the Scottish Government’s proposal for a Rural Visa Pilot Scheme, and for an urgent reassessment of immigration policy to increase access to the labour that it considers Scotland needs for its economy and communities to prosper.

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