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Michael Gove pledges support as farmers issue drought ‘wake-up call'

01 August 2018 by
Michael Gove pledges support as farmers issue drought ‘wake-up call'

Environment secretary Michael Gove has pledged to support farmers struggling in the face of drought following the summer heatwave.

Speaking from the National Farming Union's drought summit, which was also attended by other government officials and industry figures, the minister committed to removing bureaucratic hurdles that are harming farmers.

He said: "We will make sure farmers have what they need in order to provide us with high-quality food and ensure their businesses survive", and added that the government would do "whatever it takes" to support food supplies.

His comments come as the summer's heatwave, which followed a long winter, is causing issues for farmers across the country. NFU president Minette Batter said many had not seen such disruptive weather in their lifetimes.

The summit called for an immediate relaxing of rules on water abstraction (taking water from a river, stream or canal or from an underground source) as well as rules that stop the trading of water between farms.

Other goals included supporting the logistics of fodder and straw transportation to affected areas, as well as speeding up the Basic Payment Scheme and Country Stewardship payments currently owed to farmers.

Batters added: "The impacts of the dry and hot weather have been hugely challenging for many farms across the country, with many not seeing such weather in their lifetimes. Today's summit was a wake-up call to government and policy makers about the importance of British food production and the critical need to manage the volatility that comes with it.

"We were pleased to hear after the meeting, the secretary of state said he would do ‘whatever it takes in order to make sure farmers can continue to run successful businesses and that food supplies can continue to be healthy'.

"As we move towards a new domestic agricultural policy it's vital that market failure and volatility are treated seriously alongside productivity and delivering for the environment in order that the nation continues to have access to British food which is high quality and produced to world-leading standards."

For more on how the heatwave is affecting farms and kitchen gardens, see next week's edition of The Caterer

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