As the public exercise in the countryside during lockdown, NFU Scotland is reminding of the importance of controlling their dogs, employing social distancing and adhering to signage requests
As Government enforces ‘lockdown’ on people leaving their homes for non-essential trips, NFU Scotland is urging those who will be exercising on farmland to ensure that their access is responsible.
Understandably, given social distancing requirements, the public are seeking routes where they are less likely to encounter other people. As this is often not on formal paths, farmers are reporting increased access levels in the countryside around towns and villages. Unfortunately, this has also seen a large increase in the amount of access issues being reported to the Union by NFU Scotland members.
It is important for the public to remember that farming activities such as lambing and calving are ongoing and to ensure that they do not do anything which could jeopardise this. This includes not taking access to fields where there are young lambs or calves present, ensuring that they adhere to social distancing requirements if they come across farmers or farm workers and finding alternative routes when asked to do so.
Where the public are exercising with dogs, it is important that they are kept in sight and under close control. In order to ensure the safety of farmers and their workers during Covid-19, the public may encounter additional signage requests, which they are urged to adhere to.
Gemma Cooper, NFU Scotland Head of Policy Team said: ‘In these unprecedented circumstances, farmers are already seeing an increasing number of access issues being caused by the public taking their daily exercise.
“It is important for the public to understand that farming activities are food production and these must continue during Covid-19. NFU Scotland is asking the public to ensure that their behaviour does not make farming activities any more difficult than it already is in these unprecedented times.