Farmer alarm over prior notification of spraying

Farmers have reacted with alarm to the idea that the industry should voluntarily alert neighbouring houses before they go spraying.

The NFU revealed last week that it is seeking views from growers on the controversial issue.

The union says it has been told by government that measures on prior notification will probably have to be introduced in the light of an ongoing court case between Georgina Downs and DEFRA.

It claims if this is the case, then it is far better if the measures are industry-led.

But farmers on the FWi forums are questioning whether such a system is workable and are also asking if the industry should be volunteering for such measures.

Edward Hammond said he thought texts would be too expensive, so he would favour updating a website which residents could check if they were at all concerned.

“However, none of this should be considered for too long or put in place until such time as Ms Downs’ case is proven.”

Not For Us was in agreement that pushing ahead with a scheme on a voluntary basis was wrong.

“While many farmers will begrudgingly accept the need for set-aside flanking measures under Option B, many whose incomes will be under severe pressure in the next 18 months may think voluntary prior notification is a step too far.”

Other contributors raised questions about the practicality of a prior notification scheme.

“With compensation Britain well on its way what happens if Mrs Smith at Number 22 doesn’t get the message in time and the field is sprayed before she has time to act. Could we be sued?” asked Bonehead.

Boveyfarmer said he had a 20 acre block of arable ground bordering a large housing estate where it would be impossible to warn everyone.

“Personally, I think the ground would have to revert to set-aside or grass for hay, as the location makes it unsuitable for grazing.”

Craman came up with a suggestion that gained the most support. “The simplest way to avoid complex issues of notification in the long term is to incorporate a few lines in the Information Packs prepared on selling a house.

Does the property have a common boundary with farmland? Yes/No. If yes please note that farming practice involves the application of various substances to the land (which include fertilisers, manures and dilute chemicals) in accordance with current law and Codes of Practice.’

“Existing property owners who neighbour farmland and have any issue with the above, as done within existing law and Codes of Practice, should move,” he said.

Read the rest of the responses – and add your own – to the prior notification forum thread.