Guidance from Defra on Public Rights of Way and access due to Coronavirus COVID-19

Thanks to the NFU and CLA for raising concerns and working with Defra on this. Both organisations have further information for their members on their websites at www.nfu.org and https://www.cla.org.uk/coronavirus

The risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others from people using public rights of way and other paths and trails is considered to be very low as long as people follow the
Government’s instructions to maintain social distancing.
Government’s guidance on using green spaces.

Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and the Highways Act 1980, Landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way.  However, in very limited circumstances, where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may consider the following temporary measures:

  • Tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
  • Temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools. (Note: this is a polite request only, and there is no power under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 for landowners to close or obstruct a public right of way).
  • Offering a permissive alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so.
    – The original right of way MUST still be maintained.
    – Permission must be obtained from relevant landowners and steps must be taken to make sure the route is safe for users and livestock.
    – It is also necessary to check the insurance position before doing this to ensure that appropriate cover is in place.
  • These temporary measures must be lifted as soon as social distancing measures are relaxed.

Defra approved signage that you can print out and use:

For paths with no alternative route:-

COVID-19 PROW notice

For paths with an alternative route:-

COVID-19 PROW alternative route notice

Social distancing posters for English and Non-English speaking agricultural workers

Posters have been supplied by Herefordshire Council & NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, for you to download and reproduce, giving advice for your employees on social distancing, and how to stop the spread of Coronavirus.  The posters are in English, Bulgarian, Kurdish, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, & Slovak languages.

Continue reading “Social distancing posters for English and Non-English speaking agricultural workers”

Red Tractor pioneers streamed audits to safeguard UK farming’s supply chain

Red Tractor is preparing to roll-out live streamed farm audits to enable new applicants to be assessed and current members to retain their status throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

All physical assessments were halted last month, in accordance with government advice on social distancing and non-essential travel. But the UK’s largest food and farming assurance scheme has been working with certification bodies and key stakeholders to deliver an innovative solution to allow audits to continue – meeting UKAS requirements – without the need for assessors to travel to farms.

Red Tractor CEO Jim Moseley said: ‘Members around the UK have shown great resilience and resourcefulness in recent weeks to keep the supply of great British food moving from farms to shops.
‘However, the public and our members expect us to maintain the integrity of the Red Tractor scheme, even during this challenging time.
‘As a world-leading assurance scheme, it was important that we developed a remote assessment option, which isn’t burdensome for our members but underpins our mantra – that adhering to the standards isn’t merely an option, it is a necessity – it’s every standard, every day.’

Unlike other approaches, Red Tractor’s remote regime is sufficiently robust to replace the routine inspection through this period where physical inspections can’t be made, thereby avoiding a backlog in inspections. The assurance scheme utilises its own online portal to enable farms to upload their documents and records and has run a series of pilots using different live-streaming technologies, across all the sectors the scheme covers – Pigs, Poultry, Crops, Fresh Produce, Livestock and Dairy, to allow assessors to have ‘virtual eyes’ on the farm.

The next phase of the development will be the scaling-up of pilots to stress test the new protocol, in order for Red Tractor to address any issues. More than 150 farmers have expressed an interest in being a part of this next stage of the roll out, citing the benefits of an assessment protocol which is more modern and the use of accessible technology as key.

From this week, under the new remote assessment programme, farms due their assurance assessment, or new applicants, can either opt for an offline pre-assessment, followed by a live stream partial assessment using video calling or online meeting software such as WhatsApp, Blue Jeans, Zoom.

Members must send documentation to their assessor in advance, via Red Tractor’s portal or other secure file transfer site, to complete the offline pre-assessment. A video call will follow at an appropriate time, allowing assessors to carry out the visual assessment of the member’s site without needing to attend in person.

Alternatively, members can opt to have the entire assessment, with all document reviews and inspections taking place, via a video call with an assessor.

Farmers who have successful remote assessments during this phase, will not be required to have an additional physical assessment outside of their normal audit cycle.

Jim Moseley added: ‘Whilst some farmers may be daunted at the prospect of a remote assessment, those that have trialled the approach see huge benefits and many believe this could herald another approach to auditing long after the impact of Covid 19.’
‘We understand that this new approach will take time to bed in, but we are committed to working with our members and certification bodies to make sure remote assessments are as straightforward as possible.’
‘By developing remote assessments, that keeps traceability, food safety and animal welfare right at its heart, we are able to continue to robustly monitor this, whilst ensuring that great care is taken to protect the health of our nation, farmers and assessors. ’

Members will be contacted by their certification body in due course to discuss the options available to them.

Notes 

  • Red Tractor has conducted over 25 pilots and demonstrated both the process and the results to UKAS and other stakeholders to ensure the process satisfies their criteria and will continue to work with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) throughout the scaled-up roll out.
  • Red Tractor is the first major Food & Farming Assurance Scheme to include fully remote assessments into its inspection regime.
  • Red Tractor’s simple guide to remote assessments can be found on YouTube HERE.
  • Routine assessments are carried out by independent certification bodies which audit farms at least once a year and farmers must be able to demonstrate to assessors that they are maintaining the standards set out by the scheme. This is done via a combination of physical inspections of important areas of the farm such as livestock sheds and chemical stores, as well as record keeping. About 450 assessors carry out in excess of 60,000 inspections every year.
  • For more information on Red Tractor’s advice for members during the Covid-19 pandemic, please go to https://assurance.redtractor.org.uk/covid-19-hub

Call for Farming Support Volunteers.

Can you provide practical help to farmers affected by Covid-19?

The current coronavirus crisis is affecting all of us and we are all keen to support those most in need in our communities. The farming community has always looked out for its neighbours and will undoubtedly be continuing to do so during this difficult time.

Alongside neighbourly support, the key farming organisations in Herefordshire felt that the County should develop a pool of volunteers. We would then propose to draw from this pool in an emergency situation, should additional support be needed by someone who is unable to tend to their own farm because of self-isolation, or because all of their staff have been required to self-isolate. Support will be for a limited time period only, we hope up to a maximum of 14 days, at which time more permanent support would be established.

The volunteer directory will be hosted by Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy www.borderchaplain.org, on behalf of the participating organisations, which also includes the NFU, Herefordshire Federation of Young Farmers, Herefordshire Rural Hub, Herefordshire Council and the police.

If you would like to volunteer please email Nick Read of Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy on agchap@btinternet.com who will send you a volunteer form to complete, which will require:

  • Your name and address, and confirmation that you are between the ages of 18 and 65.
  • Telephone
  • E-mail.
  • Details of any relevant experience including the type of livestock and machinery you have worked with and relevant certification

Volunteer Form for you to download

FARMING SUPPORT VOLUNTEER FORM


NB. Copies of the forms are also available on the websites of participating organisations.
Nick can be contacted on 07973 361055 if you want to discuss this.

If you are a farmer requiring assistance during the current crisis you can contact one of the above organisations, or Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy by email (agchap@btinternet.com) or phone (07973 361055).

Thank you everyone and please remember to stay safe and self-distance!

Red Tractor – temporary suspension of all physical inspections


Red Tractor have temporarily suspended all physical inspections, across all schemes including the FSA and other enforcement bodies that Red Tractor have earned recognition arrangements with until further notice.

Red Tractor are working with certification bodies and UKAS to understand and develop processes to establish remote auditing. Red Tractor will communicate to scheme members when and how inspections move to a remote audit in due course.

This does not affect your annual membership renewal of your certificate. You should seek to renew your certificate as normal.

If you require stickers, you should follow the normal procedure and contact your certification body which will provide these.
Any issues in receiving your stickers must be raised with your certification body, who will be able to offer an alternative solution.

Click HERE to go to the Red Tractor Covid-19 Hub for further details.

Nuffield Farming Scholarships open for applications

Nuffield Farming Scholarships offer life changing Scholarships that unlock an individual’s potential and broaden horizons through study and travel overseas, with a view to developing farming and agricultural industries. 2020 has brought the year of the 1000th Nuffield Scholar.

“Nuffield Farming Scholarships are an amazing opportunity that can benefit careers, industry and business, as well as advancing personal development. They are recognised worldwide, and in many countries there is a network of scholars who will be pleased to assist you.”

Over the years we have had some fantastic Scholars from Herefordshire who have brought back many brilliant ideas which have been shared both within Herefordshire and nationally.

The applications are now open and will close on the 31st July 2020. There is no need for formal qualifications in order to apply for a Nuffield Scholarship; instead, the Trust looks to unlock an individual’s potential and broaden horizons. Scholars are selected with a view to developing tomorrow’s leaders within their individual business and the industry as a whole.

Nuffield Farming member countries span the globe, with established programs in Australia, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. Associate countries also include Brazil, USA, South Africa, and the Southern Caucausus (Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan)

To apply you need to be between 22 and 45 years of age.

To find out more information please visit the website www.nuffieldscholar.org or contact our Alumni Officer Charlotte Merson – email: charlotte@nuffieldscholar.org

Three-crop rule relaxed and support for farmers hit by recent flooding

Basic Payment Scheme – Three-Crop Rule Relaxed

The three-crop rule has finally been relaxed for farmers in England following months of lobbying by industry leaders. Thank you to them for all their efforts.
The rule is being relaxed for ALL farmers for 2020 – not just flood-hit growers unable to get crops in the ground.

Flooding – Farming Relief Recovery Fund – support for farmers affected by storms Ciara and Dennis

A further £6 million pot of funding will be provided through a further extension to the Farming Recovery Fund.
Support will be available for farmers in Shropshire, Staffordshire, east and north Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Nottinghamshire and Herefordshire.

More information on the application dates for the extended Farming Recovery Fund will be released in due course, which will include details on how to apply and guidance on eligibility within affected counties.
The Farming Recovery Fund handbook has more detail for those eligible under previous funding rounds.

Farmers who have been affected by recent flooding and who have already repaired damage caused by the flooding should keep records of all relevant evidence, including receipts and before and after photos, in order to help the RPA process eligible applications promptly.

Planning ahead?

Has there ever been a time of more turmoil and uncertainty in farming?

With the challenging weather conditions experienced in recent months, and the growing uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the forthcoming EU trade negotiations, what can farmers do to clear the fog?

As part of Defra’s ‘Future Farming Resilience Fund’, and working in partnership with Ricardo Energy and Environment and The Anderson Centre, Herefordshire Rural Hub will be running a series of support programmes to help farm businesses prepare for change.

Beginning in March, we will be running Resilience Briefing events, providing the tools and support to help you to understand the changes coming from the UK’s Exit from the EU and the Common Agricultural Policy.

We will be running two workshops on resilience planning with Ricardo and Andersons providing insight into the tools and information to make a start on your plans for the coming years – helping you to understand your business performance, identifying the opportunities opening up and helping you ensure success in the future.

More details will be coming out soon but in the meantime if you would like to find out more or to get involved please get in touch with Sarah Starkey
Tel: 07974 438517     Email: farming2020@herefordshireruralhub.co.uk