Scottish Executive grants derogation for grazing on set-aside land

The Scottish Executive has reacted with lightning speed to a plea from NFU Scotland to allow farmers to graze set-aside land.

Under EU regulations, set-aside land cannot be used for agricultural production from 15 January to 31 August, but Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, has acted quickly to grant a derogation allowing farmers to use set-aside for grazing or feeding livestock where heavy rain has ruined summer grazing pastures.

NFU Scotland made a request for a derogation last Friday and received a positive answer on Monday.

“The rainfall for June alone was 30% above the monthly average, leaving fields sodden and many farmers concerned about how to feed their livestock,” said Mr Lochhead.

“I hope that by using this derogation, the fears of many farmers will be put to rest.”

Farmers wishing to use set-aside need to write to their local Scottish Executive office explaining their need to use the land.

The derogation allows farmers to graze set-aside or use it for fodder for their own animals. Fodder grown on set-aside may not be sold.

The EU allows members states to decide on whether set-aside can be grazed early in “exceptional circumstances” and it was on this basis that NFU Scotland made their request.

NFU Scotland vice-president, Nigel Miller, said continuous wet weather had prevented farmers from cutting hay and silage and land destined for second cut silage was having to be used for grazing.

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