Impact of the dry weather on farmers
There has been media coverage over the weekend and today about calls for the Government to do more to help farmers affected by the hot weather.
We understand the pressures that farmers are facing, particularly in the livestock sector, and have taken a number of steps to address this issue in recent months, including:
- Getting both Basic Payment Scheme and agri-environment scheme payments issued promptly. We have worked to ensure those reporting difficulties in meeting the terms of their farm payment agreements will not be penalised.
- The Environment Agency has introduced flexible water abstraction licences for farmers affected to safeguard food production and animal welfare, provided the regulator is satisfied there will be no adverse effects on the environment. So far the EA has approved over 60 applications from farmers to do this. This includes allowing farmers to trade water allowances - as set out in their abstraction licence - on a short-term basis, without the need to change their licences.
- While some member states have sought a derogation from the stipulation that Environmental Focus Area (EFA) catch or cover crop cannot be graze, we are seeking a far more useful relaxation of EU laws for our farmers. We have been negotiating with the European Commission to secure a flexibility to enable farmers to sow grass and other herbaceous forage in these areas, so that more fodder will be available for livestock. We expect to hear back on this shortly.
A Defra spokesperson said:
We are seeking a far more useful relaxation of EU laws for our farmers than other member states have sought.
Allowing catch or cover crop grazing would, we expect, have limited benefit for our farmers, given the limited crop types that can be grown under current rules in the areas concerned.
We expect further news next week on our negotiations with the European Commission to secure a much more beneficial flexibility to increase the availability of fodder resources for livestock.