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Farron secures Ministerial meeting for Hill Farm Apprenticeship Scheme

April 7, 2009 9:02 AM

Following last week's announcement that representatives from the farming industry had met with Defra Secretary Hilary Benn to discuss skills training, Liberal Democrat Defra Spokesperson Tim Farron has revealed his delight that his Hill Farm Apprenticeship Scheme will soon be given ministerial consideration by the Secretary of State.

Speaking last week in the House of Commons, Mr Farron's Liberal Democrat colleague Simon Hughes MP was able to secure a meeting with Hilary Benn to discuss Tim Farron's proposal to provide practical skills to encourage the next generation of British farmers.

Part of the meeting will be devoted to discussing Mr Farron's Hill Farm Apprenticeship Scheme, which would look to provide business advice and skills learning for prospective hill farmers. The scheme would also ensure upland farmers are rewarded for their efforts by encouraging them to diversify into more profitable areas of farmers, such as anaerobic digestion.

Commenting Mr Farron:

"I'm delighted that Hilary Benn MP has agreed to meet with a delegation of Liberal Democrats to discuss our proposals to improve access to training for 21st-century farming.

"I was particularly pleased to learn that the Minister had discussed the potential of agricultural apprenticeships during his recent meeting with representatives from the farming industry.

"From the discussions I've had with the upland farmers in South Lakeland, I'd estimate that up to 85% of hill farmers have no line of succession in place to take over the business when they retire. My Hill Farm Apprenticeship Scheme will make it easier for new hill farmers to get into the industry while ensuring they are rewarded for their role as stewards of the countryside.

"It's crucial we pass on the vital skills and knowledge of hill farming to the next generation. I'm hopeful Hilary Benn MP will give my proposal proper consideration when we meet after Easter."