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Farron joins DEFRA secretary to announce sunnier future for our uplands

March 10, 2011 11:30 AM

TF ruralThis morning South Lakes MP Tim Farron joined the Secretary of State for Defra Caroline Spelman and Defra minister Jim Paice MP to announce major changes in funding for hill farmers.

The announcement is the culmination of the government's review of upland policy. Plans announced this morning at the Newton Rigg campus by the trio included a major boost in funding for the UELS (Upland Entry Level Scheme) and access to rural development grants for farmers from the uplands.

All these policies will help create a more sustainable future for upland farming in the Lake District. South Lakes MP Tim Farron has been instrumental in pushing the government to make sure upland farmers are better supported. Tim is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming.

In his speech this morning Tim said: "It's been my privilege to chair the All Party Group on hill farming since we brought it into being in 2005.

"What this announcement does is to ensure that UELS is fully funded, that every hill farmer who qualifies will get into the scheme. We also see additional grant funding being ring fenced and made available for upland communities - showing real confidence in the uplands economy.

"And our uplands desperately need a boost. 30 years ago Longsleddale had 30 working farms. Today it has 7. Only one has a clear line of succession. In 2009 the average income for a hill farm was £5,000. I reckon that's the equivalent of £1.60 an hour. It's about what I got paid to stack shelves when I was 17 and it's a disgrace. Last year Natural England published a report called 'The Upland Vision to 2060'. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that at that rate; there would be no upland farming in 2060. We don't need a futuristic vision, we need immediate action.

"So this announcement today is a small step to increase support for our uplands. We need it to be followed with more support, for example access to superfast broadband, more affordable homes and farming apprenticeships to ensure succession."