Coronavirus – farmers urge the public to stick to the rules on countryside access

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With the long bank holiday Easter weekend ahead, the message from the Borough’s farmers is, please follow the rules during the coronavirus pandemic.

Maintaining daily exercise means that more people are out during the day. As people seek alternatives to popular parks and Bedford’s embankment, farmers have seen significant increases in people making use of footpaths instead.

The National Farmers’ Union in East Anglia is urging anyone using public rights of way to maintain social distancing requirements, especially when walking near or through farmyards, to follow the countryside code and to keep dogs on leads near livestock.


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“Thankfully, most Bedfordshire residents have kept to rights of way and this is much appreciated,” said NFU County Adviser for Beds & Hunts, Oliver Rubinstein.

“However, the last few weeks have seen a number of people walking across newly-planted crops, damaging environmental areas and sadly, dogs off the lead chasing and killing sheep.

“We all recognise there are multiple health and wellness benefits to getting out and enjoying the countryside but it’s absolutely vital we all heed guidance during these difficult times.

“It may seem harmless to walk wherever you want, but this is a critical time of year for our farmers. There’s a narrow weather window to get crops planted and we’re in the middle of lambing too, so getting ill will have a huge impact on their ability to produce food for the coming year.”

The NFU is asking people to remember that farms are also places of work and that many farmers are older, with some among the 1.5 million people identified at being of greater risk of covid-19.

Within Bedfordshire, the NFU is liaising closely with the local authorities responsible for public rights of way and they are issuing similar messages.

You can also find out more about how to enjoy the countryside safely during Covid-19 by visiting:  https://www.countrysideonline.co.uk/care-for-the-countryside/coronavirus-and-the-countryside/


 

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