Member of the Welsh Parliament for Monmouth, Nick Ramsay, last week in the Senedd called for the Welsh Government to do more to help local businesses who rely on seasonal migrant workers and are struggling to source the staff needed to operate effectively.
Nick has been contacted by local businesses in Monmouthshire involved in Christmas poultry production who are facing very difficult times as they are unable to employ their usual seasonal migrant workers due to restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
Nick said: “Welsh horticulture is massively supported by seasonal agricultural workers coming to the UK to pick fruit and vegetables on farms, and this has continued through the pandemic, as I believe that they've been allowed to self-isolate for 14 days on the farm where they work and live. Can you look at ways that these exemptions can be extended, or will you have discussions with the UK Government if it comes under their remit? This won't just be of benefit to horticulture; I understand that, in the run up to Christmas, there's a shortage of trained poultry processors as well, which could be plugged with an eight-week extension to the exemption for seasonal migrant workers.”
In response Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs stated: “We were certainly very concerned about seasonal agricultural workers not being able to come to the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. Right at the beginning, probably back in April, I was involved in weekly discussions with the UK Government around this issue. Certainly, as we continue to go through the year, as you say, it's not just fruit pickers or vegetable pickers; there are other seasonal workers who we rely on. They are conversations that I do have with the UK Government, and I'm sure that other ministerial colleagues do too. “