DEFRA has said farmers may use their set-aside land for grazing and hay making, to help relieve the mounting pressure on animal fodder supplies.

“Normally, set-aside land must not be used for agricultural production, including grazing, from 15 January to 31 August,” said an official.

“But, in light of restrictions on animal movements put in place following confirmation of foot and mouth on a holding in Surrey, a derogation is being made available to farmers.”

This derogation allows farmers to graze set-aside land with their own animals, or harvest hay or silage for their own uses,  through to the end of the month.

“Farmers should take note that set-aside land can only be accessed if it does not involve a breach of the movement restrictions,” the official added.

Farmers wishing to make use of this derogation should telephone or e-mail the Rural Payments Agency, providing the reference numbers for the fields which they wish to graze or harvest.

“Exceptionally in these circumstances, farmers may consider that the derogation has been granted unless RPA makes contact to confirm otherwise,” said the official.

Emails should be sent to: csc@rpa.gsi.gov.uk or telephone enquiries  made to the Customer Service Centre on 0845 603 7777

For more on foot and mouth, see our special report