IFA President Joe Healy has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Enterprise, Business and Innovation Heather Humphreys of a pilot labour permit scheme for the agriculture sector as a positive first step.
“Irish agriculture, especially labour intensive and/or expanding sectors such as horticulture, dairy and pigs, has a genuine need of additional labour from outside Europe as we approach full employment and recovering EU economies have labour needs of their own,” Mr Healy said.
The scheme is targeted at the horticulture, meat processing and dairy farming sectors. It will allow, on a pilot basis, a limited number of workers from outside the EU/EEA to be recruited into the horticulture, meat processing and dairy farming sectors.
“It is important that Minister Humphreys would provide a timeline and framework for the operational review of this pilot, so that the operation of the scheme can be assessed against each of the three agricultural sectors’ needs,” Mr Healy said.
“I am glad to read that where sectors put in place strategies to source and retain labour from the domestic and European labour markets, and where they invest in innovative technologies, as the sectors have done, the Minister would be open to granting additional permit quotas. It will be important to define the conditions in which this might be achieved,” he added.
“We now need clarity to be provided urgently as to how individual farmer employers can apply for these permits, and the time framework within which the pilot will be reviewed, and hopefully amended if necessary and extended as required,” he concluded.
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