NFU raises alarm at new seasonal worker recruitment charges

Proposed changes to regulations that would require farm businesses to pay for the recruitment and transportation fees of seasonal workers have been challenged by the NFU.

The updated workforce requirements were put forward in March by global auditing organisation Sedex (Supplier Ethical Data Exchange), which represents 85,000 companies and aims to improve business practices in global supply chains.

However, the NFU has called for the proposed changes to be halted until a consultation has taken place as it could have a significant financial impact on farm businesses.

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It is asking for a thorough industry consultation on how it would be implemented and how it would affect businesses.

NFU president Tom Bradshaw said: “I am shocked that a decision such as this, which could have detrimental financial implications on our farmers and growers – already struggling with high input costs, extreme weather events and challenges in the supply chain – has been decided without the consultation of the people and businesses it will affect.

“We care deeply about the welfare of the skilled people who come to our country to help produce the nation’s food, and many horticulture and poultry producers have high numbers of workers return to their businesses each year because they are so well valued.”

The NFU has said it is still not clear how the change in standards will be applied across the supply chain.

Mr Bradshaw added: “It is vital that the proposed changes are paused until there is a full consultation with all stakeholders and a full assessment on the impacts the proposed audit changes will have to the commercial viability of growers, food inflation and UK food security.”