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Horticulture: Seasonal Workers

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 87644, tabled on 6 December 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of (a) ornamental horticulture’s contribution to the environment and biodiversity and (b) the potential merits of including that sector in the Seasonal Workers Pilot scheme to support the sector to increase the production of plants and trees.

Answered on

30 December 2021

While no specific assessment has been made of the ornamental horticulture sector’s contribution to the environment and biodiversity, domestic ornamental horticulture production is an important part of the supply chain for green infrastructure. Green infrastructure includes greenspace such as parks and woodlands but also other environmental features such as street trees, hedgerows and green walls and roofs.

Defra is considering the latest data and working with the ornamental horticulture production industry to understand labour demand and supply, including both permanent and seasonal workforce requirements. We will continue to monitor the labour needs of the ornamental horticulture sector and help to ensure that these are met.

The Seasonal Workers Pilot was expanded for 2021, from 10,000 to 30,000 visas, for workers to come to the UK for up to six months to pick and package fruit and vegetables on our farms. The Government has announced that the seasonal worker visa route will be extended to 2024 to allow overseas workers to come to the UK for up to six months to harvest both edible and ornamental crops. 30,000 visas will be available. This will be kept under review with the potential to increase by 10,000 visas if necessary.