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MP calls for action to secure farm labour

22nd June 2012
MP calls for action to secure farm labour

Gordon Henderson MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey held a House of Commons debate today on Seasonal Agricultural Workers in Westminster Hall. The Rt. Hon James Paice, Minister of State for Agriculture, responded for the Government.

Mr Henderson called for:

• A scheme to be launched in the UK allowing those on benefits to retain their entitlement whilst undertaking seasonal work on a daily call basis. A comparable scheme is found in Spain with a so-called fixed discontinuous contract allowing workers to have an indefinite contract with a farmer, but is called to work only when there is a suitable job and receive benefit otherwise.

• The employment of voluntary and properly supervised prisoners to work on farms on a seasonal basis as part of the Government’s plans to rehabilitate prisoners and prepare them to be released into society.

• The replacement of the current Seasonal Agricultural Scheme, which is due to end in 2013, with a new scheme that recognises the continued need for a certain number of overseas workers, but also maximise the potential of utilising local labour as supported by the National Union of Farmers

Mr Henderson said:

“Agriculture, in my view will have an increasing strategic importance in the next few decades. Basically our country’s food security is a major issue and Briton has to grow more of its own produce. Agriculture is increasingly important to the economy of my constituency and the county of Kent as a whole being the Garden of England.

“Farmers need a well trained and willing workforce to help harvest the crops and I held the debate today to look into how this can be achieved. It is ironic that with unemployment often high in rural area’s farmers need to employ workers from overseas. We need to work out how to change this.”

CLICK HERE to read the full Westminster Hall debate.

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