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East Anglia’s farming employers urged to respond to Migration Advisory Committee’s call for evidence

PUBLISHED: 12:03 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:03 13 October 2017

Louisa Butcher, an associate solicitor at Mills and Reeve.

Louisa Butcher, an associate solicitor at Mills and Reeve.

Mills and Reeve

Farmers and rural employers relying on a migrant workforce have been urged not to miss the chance to influence post-Brexit government policy.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was set up by the government to advise it on the social and economic impacts of the UK’s exit from the EU and how our immigration system should be “aligned with a modern industrial strategy”.

To help inform its response, it has issued a “call for evidence” seeking views and evidence from “anyone with relevant knowledge, expertise or experience” – which will close on October 27.

Louisa Butcher, an associate solicitor in the agri-business team at the Norwich office of Mills and Reeve, attended a meeting with MAC’s head of policy along with industry organisations including the CLA (Country Land and Business Association) and NFU (National Farmers’ Union).

She said with very little evidence available on the number of EEA (European Economic Area) migrant workers, this was the “only chance the sector has got to put their case to the government” before post-Brexit policies are written.

“It is vital that agribusinesses – from farmers to food packers and processors – respond to this request as such workers are essential to many of them,” she said.

“Respondents are asked to produce evidence (anecdotal or in the form of data) of their use of EEA migrant and/or seasonal labour and the impact which a reduction in EEA migration would have on their business.

“Respondents should be aware that at present the government is asking why increased mechanism and better use of technology would not reduce the need for such labour – is innovation being stifled by the availability of cheap unskilled labour?

“It is also necessary to show or explain that the required labour is not available within the domestic workforce. In addition, if respondents feel that there is a need for a new Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme, then this should also be included within any submission.

“If there is to be proper provision of EEA workers for the needs of the agricultural and food sectors then it is vital that the MAC has the information that it requires.”

For more detail and to make a submission, see https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/635638/2017_08_04_MAC_Call_for_Evidence.pdf.

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