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New Zealand shearers get work permit

May '09
As shearing gets underway in southern counties, sheep producers are welcoming news that New Zealand and Australian shearing gangs will be working as usual in the UK this summer following a review of new work permit regulations.

The British Wool Marketing Board expressed deep concern last month when the new regulations meant that shearers wanting to come to the UK would have to wait up to nine weeks for their applications to be processed – a situation that was set to deter hundreds of southern hemisphere shearers from making their traditional summer trip to the UK.

But several concessions have been made regarding the new rules which will now allow New Zealand and Australian shearers to have their applications processed within 15 days following industry-wide representations made to the UK government.

Sussex farmer Frank Langrish, Chairman of the British Wool Marketing Board, welcomed the government's recognition of the work permit problems which he says could have caused a major welfare problem to the UK sheep industry.

“We're very pleased that the Home Office reacted swiftly to the farming industry's calls to make concessions to the shearers who always come to the UK each summer to shear large numbers of sheep. Thankfully a welfare crisis has been averted,” said Mr Langrish.

Leading sheep shearer Doug Lambie, who farms in north Wales, said there had always been close links between shearers in the UK and New Zealand.

“New Zealand is the Mecca for young people from the UK who want to gain experience shearing sheep as a career. The southern hemisphere shearers come to the UK in the summer and many young people from the UK visit New Zealand during the winter to learn and to work alongside the world's top shearers.

“I'm glad the problems have been resolved so that we can continue to maintain our strong ties with the New Zealand shearing industry,” said Mr Lambie.

British Wool Marketing Board

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