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Farmers faced 'pretty disastrous' conditions during 2018, forum hears

A rural forum to discuss farming issues started with a minute’s silence on Monday, November 26.

The meeting at Maidenhead Town Hall included a breakdown of issues that have affected the farming community in the last year and an update from Thames Valley Police on rural matters.

Chairman, Cllr Christine Bateson (Con, Sunningdale) requested that meeting attendees stand for a minute to mark the death of well-regarded farmer John Emmett.

Mr Emmett died last month following a long illness and as well as a being a farmer and vegetable grower, he also spent time serving on Bray Parish Council and played for Windsor Rugby Club.

After the minute’s silence, farmer Andrew Randall from Randall Farms Limited explained the impact the weather had on the usual farming timetable this year.

A combination of it being ‘very, very wet’ and a late spring which delayed the planting of crops, coupled with the lack of rain in June and July, were ‘pretty disastrous’ conditions.

Andrew said: “Crops planted in April had only about 100 days in the ground which severely curtailed their potential.”

The unprecedented dry weather also had a knock-on effect. It allowed fire to spread easily sparking farmland fires including the one at Little Marlow on July 2.

Farmer Nick Philp spoke about the impact Brexit could have on farmers who rely on farm subsidies provided by the EU.

Inspector Louise Warbrick from Thames Valley Police spoke about unauthorised encampments on rural land and the improving communication between the council and police to tackle the problem.  The next rural forum will be held in March.

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