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Farron re-elected Chair of Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming and gives 'two cheers' for new funding scheme

January 14, 2010 12:00 AM

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, was re-elected as chair of the cross party group which represents Hill Farmers in Parliament. The group was established 4 years ago following the removal of the Hill Farming Allowance by members committed to ensuring that the HFA was replaced by another scheme. Many people see the introduction of the new Uplands Entry Level Scheme - to be launched in February - as a clear vindication of the Hill Farming groups work and, in particular, Mr Farron's leadership of the group.

At yesterday's meeting of the Hill Farming group, however, Tim Farron and the NFU's Hill Farming chief spokesman, Will Cockbain both expressed concern that the new funding scheme would have limitations, with some tenant farmers still not guaranteed to receive funding.

Mr Cockbain highlighted how 45% of all sheep in England are farmed in the uplands, reaffirming how vital the work of Hill Farmers is for food production as well as managing the environment. He criticised the difficulty farmers have in obtaining permits to build new homes for the next generation of farmers on their land. Schemes such as Mr Farron's 'Home on the Farm' would begin to solve this pressing issue by providing housing for the next generation of farmers on the farm itself.

Mr Farron committed the group to continue to work on these issues to ensure that hill farming is supported and enabled to thrive.

Mr Farron commenting:

'I am very pleased to be re-elected as chair of this important group which speaks up for the rights of Hill Farmers in Parliament.'

'As a group we welcome the introduction of the UELS but we can only give it two cheers - not three - because it may still exclude some of the most needy farmers.'

'With average hill farm incomes at just £5,000 a year, I am determined that our cross party group will continue to fight for a fairer deal for upland farmers given the vital role they play in providing food, protecting our environment and maintaining our landscape.'