New forage measures secured for livestock farmers

Farmers affected by this summer’s dry weather will be able to avail of new fodder measures secured by the UK Government, it has been announced today (Wednesday, September 26).

New flexibility from the EU Commission has been secured, which will help farmers increase the amount of feed they can grow for their livestock.

From today, farmers will be allowed to grow grass and other edible forage in areas that are not usually allowed for grazing.

The dry weather earlier this summer has meant many livestock farmers have not had enough pasture to graze their animals on, with some having to break into their winter feed supplies early.

The UK Government secured a derogation from the EU’s Ecological Focus Area (EFA) winter crop requirements, which stipulates that certain areas must be left fallow or sown with crop mix that cannot be grazed.

This is the latest in a series of measures introduced to help farmers affected by the dry weather, including:
  • Granting of 89 flexible water abstraction licenses by the Environment Agency for farmers to safeguard food production and animal welfare, the majority of applications received have been approved;
  • Publishing guidance for 40 Countryside Stewardship options which can be adjusted for this year without penalty if agreement holders notify Natural England by the end of 2018;
  • Waiving penalties for farmers who fail to establish EFA catch crops by August 20;
  • Communicating to farming groups that they are able to graze fallow land without need for a derogation.

Commenting on the derogation, Secretary of State Michael Gove said: “We have had one of the driest summers since modern records began in 1961, and it is only right that we do what we can to support farmers who have been placed under the most pressure.

“I am pleased that the flexibilities announced today will offer some help to livestock farmers by opening up new sources of fodder ahead of the winter.

I am also glad that we are continuing to discuss the industry’s ideas for longer-term resilience.

“The government will continue to monitor the situation and listen to industry as we move towards the autumn and winter months,” Secretary Gove said.