The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT of the National Farmers Union (NFU) has urged farmers in the UK to get clarity from the government over temporary changes to wild licences.

This week, Defra announced that six general licences for the control of wild birds will be reissued on a temporary basis ahead of new licences coming into force on August 1, 2020.

No action is required by licence users beyond the ongoing requirement to act in accordance with the licence conditions. Defra intends to publish new licences in early July to allow users to become acquainted with the changes before they officially come into force on August 1.

The licences will be reissued from March 1 to July 31 and Guy Smith, from the NFU, is hoping the government will allow farmers to carry on protracting their stock from wild birds.

“Farmers’ ability to control woodpigeons and carrion crows on their farms is absolutely vital to protect vulnerable, young livestock and prevent damage to crops," he said.

“The NFU has been clear that the new general licences regime needs to be fit for purpose, more transparent and accessible for farmers.

"Defra has the power to grant general licences and we do not believe that individual licences should replace the current arrangements.

"This would result in an overly complex system which would not deliver the protection for farm animals and crops it intends.

“General licences are particularly vital at this time of year for many farmers who need to protect lambs and emerging crops.

"As the current licences are due to expire at the end of February, farmers need urgent clarity from Defra as to what the new licences will look like in order to avoid the same confusion many farmers experienced last year.”

For more information on the licences, head to