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LAMMA 2021

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From the editor: One-size-fits-all approach to regulation is doomed to fail

Farming regulation as a tick box exercise is unlikely to ever properly work.

Closed periods on slurry spreading is one example, and the prospect of such measures can leave many farmers feeling frustrated, with the lingering feeling that policymakers are simply out of touch.

 

As the draconian approach to water pollution, Nitrate Vulnerable Zones and the looming closed period show in Wales, farmers feel as though they are being prevented from working with the natural environment, instead being made to adhere to some arbitrary calendar.

 

As this autumn has shown right across the UK, visions of sparkling, golden autumnal leaves might be nice images to print in newspapers or online, but for many farmers the land is simply too saturated to effectively carry out field work, as our In Your Field writers allude to this week.

 

That is why the seeming acknowledgement by Tony Juniper, chairman of Natural England, that closed periods for slurry spreading might not necessarily be a good thing, must now pave the way for a more sympathetic form of regulation which enables farmers to adapt to the land and specific conditions at any one time.


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It is encouraging that he has been impressed by the environmental payments-by-results trial in Wensleydale, Yorkshire, and this has shown that, shock horror, it is farmers who are best placed to implement decisions which benefit both the environment and food production.

 

Having regulations specific to different parts of the UK and the soil type or particular environmental conditions in those areas would make much more sense than a one-size-fits-all approach.

 

So too would a pragmatic vision which seeks to engage farmers in a proactive manner, something which those in Wales feel has been missing for some time.

 

As the climate continues to shift and we face more intense periods of drought or flood, having regulations in place which enable farmers to adapt to changing climatic conditions will become ever more important.

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