Faster licence agreed for foreign sheep shearers
Darlington and Stockton Times
9:55am Friday 1st May 2009
FOREIGN sheep shearers are to be fast-tracked through the immigration system to try and avoid millions of UK sheep suffering during summer temperatures.
New entry rules led to fears that much of the UK flock would go un-shorn this summer – causing huge welfare problems for the affected animals.
Normally about 500 shearers come to the UK to shear the national flock but the new rules had resulted in only one registering to travel.
The farming industry warned of major animal welfare problems and now the Home Office and Defra have agreed to speed up processing times for Australian and New Zealand shearers.
The expected 12-week process has been reduced to a maximum of three weeks, which should enable some to enter the UK in time for the start of the shearing season.
Shearers already working in America and Europe will also be given a special concession to allow them to gain entry clearance without having to return to their country of residence.
Peter Morris, National Sheep Association chief executive, said it was excellent news.
He said: “There was a very real concern that many of the UK flock would not be shorn this year if the New Zealand and Australian shearers were not able to enter the country, the welfare implications were huge and the difficulties faced by all UK sheep farmers would have been immense. “No doubt there will still be challenges during the shearing season but hopefully the potential crisis has been averted.”