The UK Prime Minister confirms an extra 10,000 visas for the agricultural sector, despite the Home Secretary’s push for lower migration.
In a pivotal move for UK agriculture, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the provision of an additional 10,000 visas, pushing the total to 55,000, contradicting Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s push for lower migration.
This move comes as a response to the sector’s increasing demand for seasonal workers.
Speaking at a farming summit in Downing Street, Sunak voiced his support for farmers and food producers, stating, “We’ve already expanded the seasonal worker visas for horticulture and poultry through to next year… today I can confirm another 45,000 visas for next year, with the capacity for a further top-up of 10,000.”
His announcement came as a stark contrast to Braverman’s Monday statement advocating for training Britain’s own fruit pickers.
Sunak’s approach to the visa situation aims to provide farmers with the certainty they need to effectively plan their operations, responding to the challenges posed by continued high food prices and the need for labour in the sector.
This move also hints at the government’s commitment to give farmers greater protection in future trade deals.
However, this development has not addressed the rising costs of essential food groups such as meat, fish, and vegetables, which have steadily climbed month-on-month.
This contrasts with the slight easing of inflation on products like milk, butters, spreads, and bakery items.
Braverman, in her speech at the National Conservatism conference on Monday, emphasised the importance of controlling legal migration, asserting, “It’s not racist for anyone, ethnic minority or otherwise, to want to control our borders.”
Despite her stance, Downing Street maintains that the commitment to cutting net migration aligns with the Government’s approach.
Former food tsar, Henry Dimbleby, applauded Sunak’s commitment to protect farmers, stating that he was “getting the train back on the tracks” with his pledge.