• THE Tenant Farmers Association has welcomed the governments decision to change the rules of the Woodland Grant Scheme so that grants are no longer available for land where the landowner has terminated an agricultural tenancy by means of a contested Notice to Quit. "Although this decision applies only to the Woodland Grant Scheme, we hope that it will set the pace for the government to change the rules of other schemes," said TFA chairman Reg Haydon.
• SCOTTISH farm minister Lord Sewel deserted the EU Agenda 2000 talks in Brussels this week in favour of three days in Italy promoting Scottish beef and lamb.
A Scottish Office official said the minister would be kept informed about events in Brussels and would return to the talks if they reached a critical stage.
• AS part of International Womens Day on Monday, the National Federation of Womens Institutes called for government support for rural communities and recognition of the importance of women in farming in the forthcoming rural White Paper.
• FARMERS in the catchment area of the River Sem in Wiltshire are to be visited by Environment Agency staff to discuss ways of reducing of reducing pollution.
The agency is enlisting the help of farmers as part of a campaign to clean up the river which has a history of water quality problems.
Over the next four weeks, EA staff will visit every farm in the area to look at storage facilities and to discuss ways of minimising the risks of pollution.
Heavy clay soils found in the region mean that fertiliser, slurry or animal waste cannot be absorbed into the ground and is often washed straight into watercourses.
Farmers can make an appointment by contacting Chris Westcott at the Environment Agency on 01258 483313.