FARMERS SHOULD find it easier to get seasonal workers after the government agreed to lift visa restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian students.

The National Farmers Union said it was pleased ministers had listened to the concerns of farmers and growers.
 
The British agricultural and horticultural industries had been worried about a serious shortage of seasonal workers to help in the extremely busy summer months. 
 
This labour force is mostly made up of Bulgarian and Romanian students travelling to Britain under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS). 

Estimates show that SAWS students make up some 25% of the total number of seasonal casual workers in Britain.
 
Tim Bennett, NFU president, said: “This is fantastic news, particularly for the country‘s fruit growers as the main harvest is now getting underway. 

“The NFU is very pleased that the government recognised the scale of the problem and has acted swiftly to rectify it.
 
“The move will help plug the labour gap left by the visa freeze and ensure that farmers and growers are able to get their fresh produce to the consumers as quickly as possible.”

Mr Bennett said the government had also announced fundamental changes in the way in which the SAWS scheme will operate, including a cut in the number of places.

“We will be working closely with them to ensure a satisfactory outcome for everyone involved,” he said.