DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn acts to help farmers hit by wet weather

DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn has responded to pleas from farmers to allow them access to waterlogged land and to open up set-aside land for grazing.


During a visit to the Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate, (10 July) Mr Benn heard how farmers their livestock and crops were suffering as the wet weather continued to hamper efforts to farm.


Mr Benn responded quickly to the pleas and representations from farming bodies such as the NFU and has released a statement detailing some of the measures taken.


“I have received representations from industry representatives and individual farmers about two specific measures we might take to help alleviate their difficulties.


“Both have now been implemented.”


“Given the urgency of the issue, I gave instructions yesterday that the cross compliance requirement Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition GAEC 3 prohibiting the use of mechanical field operations and mechanised vehicles on waterlogged soil should be suspended until 31st July 2007. 


“This will enable farmers to use mechanical equipment and vehicles on waterlogged soil and access their crops.


“Farmers should use their Soil Protection Review as a means to identify and mitigate any soil-related issues arising as a result of the suspension.


“Livestock farmers have also been experiencing problems in accessing sufficient forage for their animals.  I have, therefore, authorised the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to allow farmers in England to graze set-aside land with their own animals or harvest hay or silage for their own use.


Farmers wishing to make use of this derogation should telephone, e-mail or write to the RPA Customer Service Centre 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 subsequently makes contact to indicate otherwise.


Further details of these measures are accessible on the RPA website
http://www.rpa.gov.uk/rpa/index.nsf/0/839744302B8BBA1080257315005078F1