New Defra measures to help with rising on-farm costs

Written by Michelle Martin from Agriland

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has today (Wednesday, March 29) announced a series of measures it hopes will assist farmers through the upcoming growing season.

In particular, it is hoped that these measures will help with the price and availability of fertiliser.

With agricultural commodities closely linked to global gas prices, farmers are facing rising costs for inputs including manufactured fertiliser, due to the process depending on gas.

The measures announced include delaying the introduction on regulations on urea fertliser usage; publishing revised and improved statutory guidance on how farmers should limit the use of slurry and other farmyard manure at certain times of year; and establishing an industry fertiliser roundtable, chaired by the Farming Minister Victoria Prentis, to continue to work on these issues, identify solutions and better understand the impact of current pressures on farmers.

The revised guidance will clarify that the government does not intend to ban autumn manure-spreading through the Farming Rules for Water.

Furthermore, the department has also confirmed details for the 2022 Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme. For the SFI, the rates confirmed back in December remained unchanged except for the Moorland category, which now stands at £10.30/ha (introductory level) and £265 per agreement (intermediate level).

The department also said that there will be no fixed application window for the SFI this summer.

Announcing these measures, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice said:

“The significant rise in the cost of fertiliser is a reminder that we need to reduce our dependence on manufacturing processes dependent on gas.

“Many of the challenges we face in agriculture will require a fusion of new technology with conventional principles of good farm husbandry.

“The measures we have announced today are not the whole solution but will help farmers manage their nitrogen needs in the year ahead.”

Responding to this announcement, National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president Minette Batters said: “Farmers are experiencing unprecedented costs when buying fertiliser, alongside tightening supplies, and it’s critical that government put in place measures to mitigate some of these effects.

“Many of the measures today, particularly around the industry-led regulation of urea, the updated guidance on the Farming Rules for Water which will allow autumn manure spreading, and the extension of Defra’s Market Monitoring Group to understand trends in the market, are positive for farmers.

“This is what the NFU has been asking for and I’d like to thank government for making these changes.”

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Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...