A LINCS FARMER has calculated that if the government introduces 2m uncultivated strips as a cross-compliance measure it will cost him up to £6500 a year.

Martin Caswell of Springthorpe Grange, Gainsborough, Lincs said if he was forced to put in buffer strips his crop margins would fall significantly.

“With an average field size of 9ha (22 acres), we have over 10 miles of hedges on our 150ha (370 acre) farm taking up 12 acres,” he said.

“Extra 2m strips would double that, costing over £6500 in lost crop margins or £45/ha (£18/acre) spread across the cultivated land left.”

Mr Caswell said he felt it was wrong that farmers who already had dykes and hedges could face this penalty.

“It‘s a bit like saying a farmer with trees will have to plant some more, but a prairie farmer won’t have to plant any.”

Mr Caswell said he felt the NFU had not done the best job in explaining to farmers that they could reply to DEFRA‘s consultation on cross-compliance which closes on Jun 20.

“Any farmer with a hedge or dyke should write to DEFRA to try and get rid of the 2m strip rule. It could be 10 minutes well spent,” he said.

A DEFRA spokeswoman said uncultivated 2m strips were being considered as they would provide valuable habitats for wildlife and help prevent diffuse pollution.

In line with current guidelines from the Rural Payment Agency on measuring set-aside, the strips would be measured from the middle of the boundary, she explained.

*Farmers that want to respond to DEFRA‘s consultation can write to:  David de Borja, Cross-Compliance Consultation, Area 5C, 9 Millbank, C/O Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR.