International sheep shearers have been awarded special concession to be able to enter the UK this year, according to the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC).
The NAAC has been working with the Home Office since 2011 to deliver on special permission for skilled shearers to assist in shearing the 15 million sheep in the UK. The scheme means that the UK is able to encourage non-visa national shearers from overseas (particularly New Zealand and Australia) to work for limited periods to ensure UK sheep are shorn on time, protecting their welfare. All those entering will only be allowed to stay for a three-month maximum period.
Jill Hewitt, NAAC chief executive, said: “We are relieved that the concession has been extended, as we are expecting shearers to enter the UK within days. It has been a nerve-wracking few months reaching agreement but we are assisting NAAC members in putting together the necessary paperwork for shearers to enter the UK.
We have relied on an input of overseas shearers, and this resource is essential to ensure that sheep can be shorn within the necessary time-scale and to high standards of animal welfare. It is a relief that post-covid we can now welcome back our team of overseas shearers to support UK contractors and farmers.”
Sheep shearing is a skilled and physical occupation which should only be carried out by professionals who have been trained to shear carefully and sympathetically.