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Drought management support announced for farmers

With recent hot, dry weather leaving farmers facing shortages of animal feeds, the Government has today announced an easing up of environmental rules to allow farmers to produce more fodder and bedding on their land.

The rule changes, which have been implemented immediately and are set to last until the end of the year, affect land set aside under the Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship schemes. They allow farmers to take steps such as cutting field margins early or grazing livestock where not normally permitted.

There are specific adjustments that farmers should be aware of to take advantage of these rule changes, a 'temporary requirement adjustments' form to fill in for each agreement being varied and requirements to keep records that can be produced on request. Full details and documents have been published on the UK Government website.

Defra has also highlighted earlier guidance to farmers on managing extreme temperatures and details of the new Water Management grant launched by the Rural Payments Agency in November that funds capital equipment to improve water management efficiency.

David Bean, Parliament and Government Relations Manager for the Countryside Alliance, commented on the changes:

"Farmers have a profoundly important role to play in maintaining a healthy rural environment, but maintaining a secure food supply remains their top priority. I'm encouraged that the Government has recognised the challenge these exceptionally dry conditions have presented and is allowing sensible adjustments aimed at improving the productivity of land, while minimising environmental impacts."

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