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Natural England Helping Farmers Deal with the Drought
2012-03-09

To help farmers and growers cope with the drought conditions that continues to affect some parts of the country despite the recent rainfall, Natural England is ensuring that the appropriate Environmental Stewardship (ES) derogations are made available as quickly as possible to farmers who are in agri-environment schemes.

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Galloways in a wood

Natural England provides funding to farmers and land managers through a range of agri-environment schemes that have a total value of around £400 million per year. The payments are linked to specific types of land management being carried out by farmers and other land managers. But these requirements can be lifted in exceptional circumstances, including the current drought.

Natural England is monitoring the situation closely and is on standby to receive requests for amendments to ES agreements that help farmers during this difficult period.

ES derogations are most likely to relate to:

  • grassland stewardship options - including requests to cut hay early for fodder, supplementary feeding or for swards to be grazed lower to alleviate animal welfare concerns.
  • spring-sown wild bird and flower & nectar seed mixes - for example, where plots intended for spring-sown mixtures have been baked hard and a significant amount of fuel and labour would be needed prepare a suitable seed bed.

Ian Fugler, Natural England’s Director for Land Management said: “The current situation is having a major impact on farmers in some parts of the country, a situation which may still get worse despite recent rain falling in some areas. At Natural England we want to ensure that the appropriate support and advice is available to help farmers deal with the consequences of these dry conditions. Since the start of the dry spell last year, we have so far received and dealt with 51 derogations from ELS agreement holders and 10 from HLS agreement holders.

“If any farmers and land managers need information or advice about their Environmental Stewardship agreements and the impacts of the drought, then please get in touch with us through your local Natural England adviser or by calling us on 0300 060 0011.”

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