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Farron gives "two cheers" for new upland funding scheme

February 9, 2010 12:00 AM

On the day that the Uplands Entry Level Scheme was finally launched by Defra Minister Huw Irranca Davies, Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs Spokesman Tim Farron has described the new scheme as a "welcome step forward" for hill farmers but warned that it would have limitations, with some tenant farmers still not guaranteed to receive funding.

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.

In his role as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming, Mr Farron successfully lobbied the Government to increase the amount of funding 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 choose to enter Uplands ELS.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"Today's announcement should be welcomed as a step forward for hill farmers as 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. 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."