One of the many impacts of Brexit on UK farming has been the lack of seasonable labour, with many European workers now unable to travel to Britain to work.
But a partnership between groups in the UK and New Zealand is aiming to resolve the issue via an labour exchange between the two countries.
The National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) and Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) have joined forces to help source labour in each country during seasonal peaks.
The idea is that agricultural workers would spend the winter in New Zealand – that country’s summer – and return to the UK in the spring, in time for the busy period here.
British workers could apply for visas for the scheme in October, to ensure they could travel to New Zealand in time to fill demand.
Ian Parker, welcomed the move, adding it had the potential to ease the burden on British growers unable to source seasonal workers.
“This scheme sounds like it could be very good news for British farmers and growers, as well as those in New Zealand,” Ian said.
“Labour shortages have blighted the agricultural and horticultural industries since Britain left the EU, and although government initiatives have eased the burden to a degree, there is still a significant shortage.
“By coming together to address the problem in a complementary labour exchange such as this, there is a great opportunity to share skills and best practice between the two countries and make farming better and more efficient in both countries.”
Although the scheme is likely to increase access to high quality seasonal workers for British farmers, it does not address the financial and tax implications of employing them, Ian added.
He advises farmers who have not employed temporary labour before to ensure they have everything in order from an employment and tax point of view.
“Gone are the days when employers could just pay temporary workers in cash and not declare it – every expenditure has to be accounted for.
“There is also a large body of legislation that governs what migrant workers must be paid, what deductions can be legally charged, and what they cannot be charged for.
“Keeping up with this legislation is the job of the farmer and it must be adhered to, to avoid falling foul of the law.
“So, if you’re looking to take advantage of this scheme, or any other that opens up access to seasonal labour, speaking to your tax advisor to ensure everything you need is in place is a sensible place to start.”
For more information contact Ian on (01295) 270200 or email email@example.com.