NFU vice president David Exwood has responded yesterday’s announcement by Defra to help support farmers impacted by the prolonged spell of dry weather.
He said: “The situation on the ground continues to be hugely challenging across all farming sectors. With nine areas of the country now officially in drought, many farmers and growers are facing serious impacts ranging from running out of irrigation water to using winter feed now to feed livestock: in short, increased costs across farming.
“The measures announced by government provides some welcome options for Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship agreement holders. It will allow actions such as cutting or grazing on land in these agreements which will help to ease shortages of bedding, fodder, grazing and forage crops. “
Mr Exwood continued: “This important derogation, which the NFU has been calling for, will provide some relief to livestock farming businesses which are already using vital winter feed supplies at a time when on-farm costs are continuing to increase significantly.
“We also welcome the announcement from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) that further rounds of funding for new applicants to the water management grant will open in the autumn. But we would like to see Defra’s regulators working together more efficiently to ensure the permissions and licenses are delivered alongside the funding approval.”
Mr Exwood said the weather over the past six months has highlighted the urgent need for government to take national food production and resilience seriously by ensuring all departments across Whitehall give due regard to the impact of environmental policies on the country’s ability to produce food.
“While some areas are now experiencing torrential downpours, many farming sectors continue to be affected by the dry weather, and we will continue to monitor the impacts on UK food production immediately and in the longer term,” he added.