The Gangmasters Licensing Authority has granted sheep shearing gangs an exemption from the costly licensing scheme.

Farmers might have had to pay between £250 and £4000 for the licence for hired shearing workers.

But the regulations included a clause which stated that if the contractor also supplied the machinery for the workers, then the operation would not need to be covered by a licence.

“As the shearers used their own clippers, we were able to establish that they were providing the machinery for the job and were, therefore, exempt,” said NFU legal expert Julie Robinson.

NFU Livestock board chairman Thomas Binns said:

“This would have put a considerable burden on the entire sector, with contractors supplying sheep shearers for farmers forced to pay for gangmaster licences.”

The NFU, the National Association of Agricultural Contractors, the National Sheep Association and the British Wool Marketing Board worked in partnership to gain the exemption.