THE heatwave has brought about a rare agreement between the much-troubled Rural Payments Agency and one of its arch critics has today even issued a big Thank you.
Rare praise for the much maligned RPA
The drought has left many farmers and landowners desperately short of grazing and after consultation, the RPA - which has been involved in a monumental row over failed subsidy payments to farmers - has agree to "bend" the existing rules and allow livestock to be grazed on land which has so far been subject to set-aside grants (in itself a highly controversial policy).
But the RPA - which shows early signs of getting its act together following the sacking of its chief executive and the departure to better things of former Defra minister Margaret Beckett - was officially thanked today by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) for recognising the problem.
CLA Yorkshire director Dorothy Fairburn welcomed news that the RPA has relaxed the rules about deadlines for cutting green cover on set-aside land and that it is also urgently pressing the EU to allow much-needed grazing on it.
"You don't have to visit the countryside to know that there's not been much grass growth recently," she said. "Green cover on set-aside land wouldn't normally be allowed for grazing, but it's desperately needed at the moment. Nor do many farmers want to risk cutting because of the fire risk especially in flinty soils or adjacent to tinder-dry crops and hedges."