DEFRA has backed down over plans to limit non-agricultural activities to five days a year during the 10-month qualifying period for the Single Payment Scheme. Junior DEFRA minister Lord Whitty has published a list of activities that farmers are allowed to host on farmland without affecting their SFP entitlements.

The list is split up into three classifications – generally permitted activities, activities which are permitted up to a 28 day limit and non-permitted activities. Activities which will be allowed without restriction include walking, birdspotting, shooting and horse riding. Those that will be limited to 28 days include car boot sales, country fairs, shows and farm auctions. Non-permitted activities include all motor sports and golf courses.

 “This classification system will allow farmers to continue to offer the kind of activities which are integral to the vibrant and lively countryside demanded by landowners and the general public,” said NFU president Tim Bennett. Country Land and Business Association president Mark Hudson added: “We are grateful and relieved that DEFRA has decided not to introduce such a negative measure [as a five day rule]. “Using farmland for school trips, scout camps and village fairs occurs mainly in the summer when the hay or silage has been taken or the crop harvested and so does not interfere with the main farming activity at all.”