Dry weather advice - all the information in one place

dry weather field comparison - web crop_55960

2018 presented challenging weather - from an extremely wet winter and spring, to a spell of 50 days of sunshine and sustained high temperatures. It’s another example of the extra pressures and volatility our farmers are facing at the moment.

2018-2019 National Drought Group meetings

The NFU meets regularly as part of this group, which includes organisations such as the Environment Agency, Natural England, public water companies, the Met Office, Ofwat, Water UK as well as Government departments including Defra and The Cabinet Office. To find out what's discussed, visit our Irrigation and Water Resources pages here.

Update: 24 January 2019
Drought fears grow as cold, dry weather continues...read more.

NFU activity in 2018

NFU staff and officeholders worked to alleviate some of the pressures our members faced brought about by the weather.

Activity included:

AHDB impact assessment and resources

Visit the AHDB website for a cross-sector analysis of the potential market impact of the prolonged dry spell. The report includes insight from the latest datasets, anticipates potential impacts, and draws on the views and opinions of AHDB's sector experts. 

The website also provides current insight from AHDB strategic farmers and a wealth of information and links.


29 August

Environment Agency launches web-based mapping support for water trading

The Environment Agency has launched a web-based mapping platform to help with potential water trades.

The support service is designed to complement the Agency’s ‘flexible licensing’ position during the current agricultural drought and will, for the time being, apply to East Anglia only and will remain open until 31 October 2018.

Water abstraction in East Midlands monitored from the air

20 August

Water abstraction from rivers and streams will be monitored from the air by the Environment Agency (EA) for the first time.

Agency officers will use light aircraft to patrol areas in the East Midlands which are at high risk of unlicensed water abstraction. The Agency claims that over-abstraction from vulnerable watercourses can harm the environment and wildlife, and interfere with the rights of existing lawful water users. Read more. 

Environment Agency steps up on-farm abstraction inspections

14 August

The NFU is aware that, as a result of the prolonged dry weather, the Environment Agency (EA) has increased inspections of on-farm abstraction activities.

This step-up in enforcement activity comes at a time when the EA is answering NFU calls to offer short-term licensing flexibility to farmers and growers in the coming weeks.

The EA has stressed that no ‘blanket’ exemptions will be available and under no circumstances can abstractors operate outside the terms of their existing abstraction licence(s) without prior approval.

NFU members can get a full briefing on EA inspection powers here.

RPA announces derogation for EFA cover crops

26 September

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has announced a derogation to relax some of the Ecological Focus Area (EFA) rules to increase the availability of fodder. This specifically applies to EFA cover crops only. The derogation is expected to come into force by 30 September. Read more

BPS: Dry weather and impact on compliance

cover crop, bps, greening, web crop_40094

The NFU has been leading work on the impact of the recent dry weather on farmers being able to comply with BPS (greening and cross-compliance issues) and agri-environment schemes. 

The RPA has now published guidance on how to deal with any difficulties arising from the hot and dry weather affecting BPS and CS/ES schemes.

The NFU continues to work with the RPA, Natural England and Defra on the challenges faced by farmers due to the drought conditions being experienced.

Here, the NFU's senior BPS adviser, Richard Wordsworth provides an update on how the NFU has been working to establish scope with BPS, greening and cross compliance rules to help those impacted by this summer's agricultural drought.

Impact of hot weather on CS and ES agreements

Dry weather grass_55242In situations where you cannot meet agreement requirements due to adverse weather conditions, you can ask Natural England for either a derogation under Environmental Stewardship (ES) or a minor and temporary adjustment (MTA) under Countryside Stewardship (CS). 

Natural England is encouraging agreement holders to get in contact as soon as possible, explaining the issue and the actions they would like to take - find out how to do this

In Wales:

NFU Cymru has been making representations on behalf of its members with regards to Glastir derogations and is pleased that the Welsh Government has now made the following announcement:

A temporary relaxation of obligations, or ‘derogations’, have been announced by Welsh Government to assist Glastir farmers and land owners affected by the current long period of dry weather. Find out all the details.

Dry weather and supply contracts

contracts, documents, model clauses, business, regulation, red tape, paperwork_36962The NFU understands that a number of its members are concerned about being unable to deliver produce in line with their contracts - that's why the NFU's legal team has created a briefing which provides general guidance on some key contractual principles which may be relevant.

Many supply contracts contain clauses which seek to deal with situations where particular events occur which are outside the control of the parties. These are most commonly referred to as ‘force majeure’ clauses.

Click here to view the briefing (you will be asked to log in).

Commitment from retailers

The NFU has spoken to the UK’s top nine retailers to express the difficulties farmers and growers are facing as a result of the dry weather over the last few months. Read what retailers have told us about the measures they've put in place to help suppliers and producers at this time.

Countryside Stewardship update - September 2018

The publication of Defra’s Policy Statement on Health and Harmony indicates that the last year for Countryside Stewardship (CS) agreements to be put in place could be 2024, with the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELM) fully open for applications in 2025. This highlights the need for continuous improvement of CS delivery before the introduction of ELMs. Read more.

Temporary prescription adjustments

18 September

Defra, Natural England and the RPA have released information on where agreement holders can alter the management of ES/CS options due to the impact of the dry weather in recent months. This outcome has been a result of requests made by the NFU for flexibility with CAP rules and was raised at the Drought Summit  in August. The NFU welcomes this development. Read more.

Impact of hot weather on CS and ES agreements

Dry weather grass_55242

Dry weather advice for farmers by NRW (4 September)

NFU Cymru has been making representations on behalf of its members with regards to Glastir derogations and is pleased that the Welsh Government has now made the following announcement:

A temporary relaxation of obligations, or ‘derogations’, have been announced by Welsh Government to assist Glastir farmers and land owners affected by the current long period of dry weather. Find out all the details.

NFU Fodder Bank

Fodder Bank_53091In response to the dry weather, on the back of a very late spring, the NFU has reopened its Fodder Bank to help farmers source forage and straw. The Fodder Bank is a free service for NFU members. If you have or need animal feed or bedding, visit the page to view listings or post details.

Alternative bedding options

Field of straw bales_14586

With the current implications of the drought, there are numerous information sources for looking into alternative forages and bedding options.

The NFU's livestock team have pulled together some key documents and useful websites, providing not only some options to consider but also the wider implications of utilising alternative products, e.g. having to apply for waste disposal licenses for some bedding materials. Check out the page here.

Adverse Weather, Water and Flooding Toolbox

weather toolkit screengrab_55178Keep an eye on this page for the latest information from the Met Office and other specialist organisations, including weather warnings, rainfall and river flow information and the England and Wales Fire Severity Index.

Last edited on: 27:07:2018

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