The NFU has described Unite as 'misleading' following the trade union's suggestion that last week's House of Lords debate has put a 'brake' on abolition plan for the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB).

Hayley Campbell-Gibbons, the NFU's chief horticulture adviser, says the AWB is holding back British horticulture.

She explained: 'There are over 1.8 million businesses in England, yet the 37,000 farms that employ workers remain alone in having a government-run board that determines wage rates.

'There remains no justification for agriculture to continue to be subject to a different and more burdensome set of employment rules than all other sectors of the economy.'

Campbell-Gibbons also hit out at the 'hyperbole' suggesting the AWB would hit incomes if it was to be discontinued citing that many farm workers are paid more than the AWB minimum and that workers are successfully negotiating their own agreements; Campbell-Gibbons said this proves the 'irrelevance of a wage setting framework'.

She concluded: 'To have a board consisting of 21 people that sets pay rates for an industry that employs 142,000 workers in England and Wales and adds £8.8bn to our economy is a clear anomaly. This wage-setting framework in agriculture and horticulture is not consistent with modern working practice.'