Fury at end to foreign workers' exemptions
Farming leaders are furious that ministers have scrapped a scheme allowing foreign fruit and flower pickers to work in Britain.
Nearly 22,000 Romanians and Bulgarians employed each year under the seasonal agricultural workers scheme will no longer receive an exemption as workers from countries outside the European Economic Area.
Hundreds of Eastern Europ-eans have flocked to Cornwall in recent years to pick daffodils and potatoes as farmers have struggled to recruit locally. UK growers recruit about one-third of their seasonal workers from the two countries.
Meurig Raymond, deputy president of the National Farmers' Union, said: "It will put thousands of existing permanent UK jobs at risk, stifle growth, compromise food security and jeopardise the industry's efforts to take on hundreds more UK unemployed for permanent work."
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But immigration minister Mark Harper said there should be sufficient workers in the UK and EU.
Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for West Cornwall, said: "The Government needs to make sure they have consulted British growers on the consequences."