DALES farmers at last able to move their stock in the wake of foot and mouth disease have hit another snag: the forms they must fill in to obtain movement licences are so complicated that some of them cannot cope.
Now, the Dales Recovery Appeal has joined forces with a Skipton firm of auctioneers and surveyors to offer form-filling advice - for free.
The DRA, which has so far raised some £850,000 to help individuals, small businesses and voluntary groups in the Craven and Ribble Valley areas hit by FMD, will pay the David Hill company in Skipton to use its sophisticated computer equipment to help baffled farmers - at cost price.
DRA committee member John Henderson, who farms at Coniston Cold, near Skipton, explained: "Moving stock will be a blessing for farmers after months of being locked onto their land by movement restrictions - but the forms required for movement licences are so complex that some of them are baffled.
"Yet many of them are facing huge feed bills because they have been keeping animals for weeks which would normally gone to market and have virtually no grazing left. We decided that professional help would throw them a vital lifeline."
Chris Windle, an associate at David Hill, commented: "Some of these forms are very complex. They require farmers to know the Ordnance Survey grid-references for very single field involved in proposed stock movements - and many don't have that sort of information at their fingertips.
"We have all this data on computers and have been providing a form-filling service to our regular customers for some time. However, we are happy to help out anyone on a non-profit-making basis and have set up a dedicated phone line for anyone needing help."
Farmers seeking form-filling help should ring 01756-692904.
The Dales Recovery Appeal, set up by the Craven Trust four months ago, has so far allocated some £125,000 to more than 80 applicants and there are many more under consideration.
The appeal is seeking further applications for grants from people in the area of the Archdeaconry of Craven, which spreads from Sedbergh in Cumbria to Denholme, south of Keighley, and west into the Trough of Bowland and the Ribble Valley.
Applications for grants - or donations of cheques made out to the Dales Recovery Fund - should be addressed to: The Appeal Office, 76 Main Street, Addingham, Ilkley LS29 0PD (phone 01943 831660).