The Scottish Government has commissioned an in-depth survey into seasonal migrant labour across the country’s farms to get up to date numbers and better insights into the issues surrounding labour shortages.
Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is conducting the research which involves speaking with farmers and rural businesses using overseas workers during peak season.
“Our plan is to survey both those employing seasonal labour from abroad and those actually choosing to come to Scotland to work,” says Dr Jane Atterton of SRUC’s Rural Policy Centre.
“The first stage of the project is a survey aimed at farmers and gangmasters that use seasonal migrant labour. The survey can be completed on-line or on paper and will help to inform those seeking to devise a system that will comply with whatever the Brexit negotiations agree.”
During the second phase of the survey in around mid-July, migrant workers will also be asked to take part and Dr Atterton stresses the importance of local farms and businesses encouraging foreign workers to participate.
The survey has the backing of National Farmers’ Union Scotland (NFUS) and Scottish Land & Estates.
“Access to labour is vital for Scottish agriculture, with sectors such as soft fruit and field vegetables being completely dependent on non-UK harvest workers. We encourage all growers to participate in this survey,” says NFUS specialist crops committee chairman, James Porter.
The survey is available online at www.sruc.ac.uk/seasonalworkers.
“As we look to the future it will be vital that the Scottish Government has access to the most up to date information so that it can make informed policy decisions,” adds Scottish Land & Estates chairman David Johnstone.