New Upland Entry Level Stewardship Scheme a "step in the right direction" for hill farming
Shadow Secretary of State for DEFRA Tim Farron MP has described today's announcement that the new Uplands Entry Level Stewardship Scheme will provide more money for British hill farming as "welcomed progress" for the industry.
Under the new scheme, the Hill Farming Allowance will be replaced with a new system designed to reward hill farmers for the environmental and landscape benefits they deliver.
Mr Farron, who yesterday was re-elected as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming, has welcomed the news that funding is to be increased from the £23.7million made available under the HFA to £25million under the new scheme. This could be increased by up to £31million within the existing Rural Development Budget should more farmers chose to enter Uplands ELS.
Commenting Mr Farron said:
"Today's announcement should be welcomed as a step forward for British hill farmers as it appears that the new Uplands Entry Level Scheme will contain a number of positive changes that will benefit the industry.
"I'm delighted that the new scheme will provide hill farmers with more money in the pot as well as the possibility of even more funding through the Rural Development Budget should the scheme prove popular.
"The decision to grant a one year extension to the current Hill Farming Allowance, so that farmers receive their last HFA payment in 2010 - rather than as previously announced in 2009, is another positive outcome that will help smooth the transition between the two schemes.
"DEFRA have listened to industry concerns and the scheme now looks a lot more practical than it did twelve months ago. I applaud the hard work of the NFU and all those hill farmers involved in lobbying for these important changes; but the job is by no means finished."