The SNP has called on the UK government to increase the Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Scheme (SAWS) to at least 70,000 per year – or devolve immigration laws to the Scottish Government.
The call comes following the Seasonal Workers’ Pilot being capped at 30,000 despite UK farmers unions – including the National Famers’ Union Scotland – demanding at least 70,000 in order to combat the loss of free movement post-Brexit.
The UK government’s refusal to match this demand – instead confirming that the scheme will reduce in numbers over the coming years – has added to the ongoing issue of produce rotting in fields with no trained workers able to collect it.
Commenting, the SNP’s Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Deidre Brock MP (pictured) said:
“Brexit has been an unmitigated disaster for Scotland’s farming industry.
“Whether it’s our pork sector, our seed potato producers, or our fishermen – their livelihoods are being devastated by an out-of-touch, corrupt UK government who have no interest in their future.
“The decision to cap the Seasonal Workers’ Pilot to only 30,000 falls incredibly short of what farmers unions have asked for.
“The UK government must rethink this decision or, instead, devolve immigration laws to the Scottish Government so we can implement our own policies.
“The quality and standard of Scotland’s food and drink produce are essential in retaining our established international reputation as a source of high quality, high value exports.
“However, for as long as Scotland remains part of this dysfunctional Westminster system, the quality and standard of our produce will deteriorate.
“That is why independence is the only way to protect the people of Scotland from Boris Johnson and his botched Brexit deal.”