Farmers in the UK, Ireland and across northern Europe, have experienced a difficult time this year with the hot, dry weather. The impacts are likely to be most severely felt by grazing livestock due to the shortage of grass, but the full effect may not be realised until later in the year. We have prioritised practical solutions to help farmers increase access to fodder and bedding both now and in the coming months. These actions will help farmers to limit the impact of extra feed costs by allocating land to forage growth and grazing, but we will keep the situation under review.
Particular measures the Government has taken to help farmers are:
I will monitor whether the fodder import scheme that has been introduced in Ireland has an appreciable effect on supplies of fodder and bedding within the UK. We have also made the point to the European Commission that whilst the UK is committed to working to identify appropriate responses to this year’s weather impacts, these should not interfere with the normal functioning of the market or obscure the focus of farmers in mitigating weather impacts.
Opportunities such as the ones described above were discussed with a wide range of stakeholders at the National Farmers’ Union “Dry Weather Summit” on 1 August 2018 and we have received some further representations in writing from farming industry organisations. Further discussions took place at the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) Industry Partnership Group meeting in Reading on 20 August 2018. Additionally, a small number of individual farmers have made representations through the RPA’s Helpline. All representations received have been considered in the round and informed the approach we are taking to offering all available support to alleviate the impacts of the recent extreme weather conditions for farmers.