MPs welcome farm muckspreading commitment but demand further action

Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee has welcomed a commitment from the government to give greater clarity to farmers about muckspreading.

The committee previously wrote a letter to the Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food, Victoria Prentis MP, saying there was significant confusion among farmers about rules set by the Environment Agency on when they could spread organic matter.

The Environment Agency said the rules were aimed at preventing pollution of water courses. However, some farmers’ representatives told the committee the rules meant farmers could not fertilise their fields at traditional times, such as in Autumn for Spring crops.

While water pollution remains a serious and growing concern, the Committee says farmers and the water industry have claimed the Environment Agency (EA), is interpreting the rules in a way that prevents farmers from the traditional spreading of manure in autumn for a spring crop and may be causing other forms of environmental damage.

Victoria Prentis MP has now replied to the Chair of the committee, Neil Parish MP, confirming that greater clarity would be given on what farming practices are, and are not, acceptable. She said this guidance would be urgently provided so farmers can plan for the year ahead.

Neil Parish MP said: “We welcome the letter from the Minister and the sense of urgency she said would now be applied to this problem.

“The Government now need to deliver on this promise and promptly produce guidance which meets the needs of farmers and the environment and gives farmers the certainty they need to be able to incorporate good organic matter into the soil.”