Farm labour shortages could be eased now the government has relaxed limits on the number of places for foreign workers available on the seasonal agricultural workers scheme.
The Home Office has raised the number of places from 20,000 to 25,000 and workers from abroad will be able to remain in employment all year round, rather than the existing seven months. The livestock sector is now included.
The NFU said foreign workers played an important role in filling the country's seasonal labour requirements.
NFU employment and education chairman Bob Fiddaman said: "Without the scheme, there would be a big shortfall in the supply of farm labour causing major problems, especially for horticulture."
The NFU has lobbied hard for the scheme to be made more flexible and said it would now be talking to the government about a complementary scheme similar to the US's green card.