Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter met with NFU Suffolk Chair, Glenn Buckingham, along with a number of NFU members and farmers at Saunders and Brothers, near Eye to discuss a number of agricultural and environmental policy issues.
During the visit, Dr Poulter heard first-hand the challenges facing Suffolk’s farmers and food producers, particularly in relation to proposed changes to the Farming and Rules for Water Regulations. Under the current regulations, or Rule 1, farmers must plan any application of organic manure/fertiliser so that it does not exceed the needs of the soil or crop thus avoiding any significant risk of pollution. However, the Environment Agency has indicated that the application of organic fertilisers to fields this autumn may constitute a breach of the regulations.
Using organic fertiliser on fields in the autumn rather than the spring makes good sense. Organic fertilisers improve soil health and reduce the need for manufactured fertilisers, which can have a much more damaging effect. Farmers across Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, and indeed nationally are deeply concerned that using organic fertilisers this autumn will result in a breach of the Environment Agency’s interpretation of ‘Rule 1’.
As a result of the visit, Dr Poulter has committed to raising these concerns directly with the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, specifically requesting further consultation before any changes to the legislation are implemented. Dr Poulter is also seeking to secure a debate in Parliament to further consider these matters and he will continue to work closely with the NFU as any legislation moves through Parliament.
Speaking about the visit, Dr Poulter said “I regularly visit farms and food producers across Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and will always to my best to support our farmers. With one in six jobs here in Suffolk linked to farming and the land economy, it’s vital that our Government policies are fit for purpose and it’s important to hear the impact that any changes will have on the ground.”
“For farmers to find themselves in this situation so close to autumn is unacceptable and I agree with representations of the NFU that this legislation must be applied in a way that recognises the wider benefits of using organic manures sustainably. This is why I have written to the Secretary of State urgently requesting a suspension of the enforcement of Rule 1 this autumn, pending wider consultation with the farming and agricultural sector.”