A WHARFEDALE farmer has condemned the ‘wanton stupidity’ of vandals who have ruined more than 100 of his bales.

An intruder or intruders entered fields at Woodhill Farm - between Clifton and Otley - about a week ago and proceeded to systematically spoil 120 bales.

Those responsible cut wide crosses into the top of each of the wrapped bales leaving them open to rain and the elements: and so effectively ruining them as the animal feed they were going to be sold for.

Sheep farmer and parish councillor Myles Nicholson, who says the action is sadly not an isolated incident in the area, fears it will end up costing him thousands of pounds.

He said: “It’s not just damage but wanton stupidity. They have gone around 120 odd bales and just cut a big cross into the top from one side of another to spoil them.

“They’ll just go to mould now and this has wasted about 40 tonnes of animal feed. That’s around £6,000 down the sink.

“The police have been informed and we’re speaking to the insurance but not sure if we’ll get anything as this was malicious damage. It’s just so annoying and people need to know that this is what local farmers are putting up with all the time.

“We’ve had an ongoing problem with the public on our property here, and have had fences cut.”

THe NFU (National Farmers’ Union), meanwhile, is appealing to the Government to take action as the cost of rural crime continues to rise and currently stands at £54 million - its highest level for eight years.

At a roundtable meeting held on September 3 with representatives from Defra, the Home Office, police and other rural organisations the NFU made the case for changes to be made to legislation to help protect farms.

And they cited hare coursing, which is illegal but still pursued by some people on rural farmland, as an example of how the law needs to be updated.

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said: “The impacts of rural crime are not simply financial for a farmer, they are emotional and can have long-lasting effects on farming families.

“We must remember that farms are not just places of work, they are homes too. I am consistently hearing from farmers that rural crime is on the rise and getting worse.

“Whether it is mass hare coursing events or industrial scale fly-tipping, it is clear that organised criminals are behind these acts.”

NFU chief land management adviser Sam Durham added: “We heard from the police that the tools at their disposal are simply unsuitable and that there needs to be a change to the law to make a real difference. If there is to be lasting change when it comes to tackling rural crime it needs to come in the form of legislation that will help the police.”