Farm leaders ask public to act responsibly in countryside

Farm leaders have urged people exercising in the countryside to follow the rules to protect themselves and farmers who are helping to feed the nation during the coronavirus pandemic.

With farmers turning livestock out and using machinery in fields and farmyards, there are reminders that many of the rural areas people are visiting during the lockdown are working environments.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has asked people to stay on the footpaths near farms to reduce the risk of accidents.

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CLA president Mark Bridgeman said: “We urge members of the public to be vigilant and aware in the vicinity of livestock and large machinery, when taking their daily exercise.

“For those walking with young children, please ensure they are kept close to you.”

The CLA has asked people to keep dogs under control near livestock and to close gates and not block farm entrances, many of which are used regularly.

Dog attacks

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has also urged walkers to keep dogs on a lead after reports of attacks on livestock, something the union said is “avoidable and unnecessary”.

Ian Lloyd, the FUW’s animal health and welfare committee chairman, said livestock worrying was yet another stress for farmers already working flat out in difficult circumstances.

“We are reminding those taking respite in the countryside to also remember our farmers, who are key workers producing our food at this very difficult time. 

“Many family farms in Wales have been hit hard by the closure of restaurants, cafes and other service outlets during the current pandemic.”

The FUW said it will continue to push for tougher legislation around dog attacks on livestock, to help reduce the welfare and financial consequences for farmers.

Police fines

Meanwhile, North Yorkshire Police has revealed it issued 61 fines last week to people who were not following government guidance by making unnecessary journeys.

On Saturday 25 April, 17 fines were issued in the rural village Malham. In total, the force issued 31 fines on Saturday to people visiting from West Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and Kent.

A further 30 fines were issued on Sunday (26 April), with officers fining six people in Brotherton who had travelled to the small village to go off-road biking.

Advice for land managers

  • Keeping paths clear and waymarks and signs in good order and up to date will help people stick to the right routes and access points. Contact your local authority or National Park Authority to find out what help is available.
  • Where there is public access through a boundary feature, such as a fence or hedge, create a gap if you can – or use an accessible gate or, if absolutely necessary, a stile. When installing completely new gates and stiles, make sure you have the permission of the local authority.
  • Encourage people to respect your wishes by giving clear, polite guidance where it is needed. For example, telling visitors about your land management work helps them to avoid getting in your way.

Source: The Countryside Code

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