NFU horticulture mid-season labour survey – why it's crucial

Martin Emmett

Martin Emmett

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board chair

First published: 01 July 2022

An image of workers picking daffodils in a field in Lincolnshire

With seasonal labour shortages reaching record levels in 2022, NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board chair Martin Emmett explains why it's so important for members to provide the evidence needed to secure an expanded scheme in 2023.

The NFU has achieved something no other trade association from any industry in the UK has achieved. But it is only because you, our members, provided the compelling evidence to get it over the line.

The Seasonal Worker Scheme is the only ‘low skilled’ visa programme in the government’s post-Brexit immigration system. Every other industry, from haulage to hospitality, construction to care, look at the scheme jealously, because they too are in difficulty.

It shows the strength of the NFU as a highly influential organisation. And, more importantly, it shows the strength of our members when we all work together.

We need your help again.

Mid-season labour survey

Our horticulture and potato grower members will soon be receiving an email from us. It will ask you to complete our mid-season labour survey to provide us with the evidence needed to secure a further expansion of the Seasonal Worker Scheme in 2023.

To be clear, an expansion is absolutely critical. In 2022, we’ve had reports of shortages as high as 40% in the first half of the year, and millions of pounds of crops being wasted. The level of ‘returnees’ continues to drop, and the motivations of workers are shifting, both of which mean we need more people to deliver the same output as before.

If we cannot evidence these impacts from 2022, we have no chance of expanding the scheme beyond the current 30,000 (plus 10,000 'if there is a need').  At the end of last year, the NFU predicted a shortfall of as many as 15,000 workers in 2022. A scheme of 55,000 would therefore be needed to ensure we didn’t have shortages. I suspect we are quite close to the truth. But we cannot lobby using estimates, we can only lobby using facts.

Please, every one of you, complete the survey and tell us about the shortages and impacts on your farm.

Your information is collected with complete anonymity, and we only provide national, not individual, data to government. Hundreds of members fill in our mid-season and end-of-season surveys each year, but we have thousands of horticulture and potato grower members.

Please look out for the email, give us the evidence, and we will use our strengths to deliver a better scheme for the future.

This survey is now closed.

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