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"Hill Farmers deserve a fair deal" says Farron

August 13, 2008 5:04 PM

Tim on a quad bike on a hill farmChair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming, Tim Farron MP has called for DEFRA to give hill farmers a fair deal, after the department announced its proposal to hold an informal consultation for the new Uplands Entry Level Stewardship scheme.

The ELS is set to replace the Hill Farmers Allowance-which provides farmers with compensation, with a new system designed to reward hill farmers for the environmental and landscapes benefits they deliver.

Mr Farron has called on DEFRA to include Cumbria within the informal testing, which will take place across 60 hill farms around the country to ascertain if the scheme is open and accessible to all hill farmers.

Tim has chosen this moment to reiterate his call for hill farmers to be given proper support, by asking DEFRA to increase funding levels from the £23million currently provided by the Hill Farming Allowance scheme. He has also asked DEFRA to guarantee that the new scheme will not exclude anyone who currently receives the Hill Farming Allowance.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"Cumbrian hill farming plays a vital role in the UK's beef and sheep industries and I am hopeful that DEFRA will include them in the informal consultation.

"DEFRA needs to be a supporter of hill farming. Hill farmers are living off a miserable subsistence and are unable to get fair prices for their products. Raising funding from its current level of a paltry £23million is a must.

"Hill farming is undergoing a period of great transition and any new scheme must allow hill farmers to access future funding. This means making sure that the ELS doesn't exclude anyone who receives the Hill Farmers Allowance.

"Political progress has been painfully slow. It's time DEFRA acted and gave hill farmers the fair deal they deserve."