FARMERS IN England are angry that even though the set-aside period starts on Saturday (Jan 15), DEFRA‘s guidance notes explaining the new rules are only just arriving.
The government promised in early December that producers would be sent shortly three booklets covering set-aside and cross-compliance issues.
But while the documents appeared on DEFRA‘s website on Dec 23, the department did not start posting them until Dec 29.
Mark Ireland, a FARMERS WEEKLY arable Farmer Focus writer from Lincs, said that he was still without the booklets on Mon (Jan 10).
As a result he felt unable to calculate his set-aside with any certainty.
“I haven‘t had any of the books that DEFRA said would come in the New Year and the set-aside period starts in a few days,” he said.
Notts farmer Peter Gadd said he felt farmers were not being given enough time to take on the information.
“For this to have been left to the last minute is appalling,” he said.
“It doesn’t fill me with confidence that DEFRA can provide the information farmers need to make business decisions.”
Richard Wordsworth, IACS adviser for the NFU, said the situation was a concern as getting the calculation wrong could lead to serious financial penalties.
“It would have been nice if all the books were out before Christmas so people could have read them over the quiet period.
“Arriving a few days before the set-aside period starts isn’t particularly helpful.”
A DEFRA spokeswoman said everybody should have the booklets by the beginning of next week.
“We make every effort to get information to farmers in a timely manner, but us sending information out is contingent on EU decisions.
“Obviously, we have to take time to make sure that the information we send is accurate,” she said.