Farron meets environment chief to demand support for upland farmers
Cumbrian MP, Tim Farron, this morning met with the Chair of Natural England, Poul Christensen, to discuss the future of funding for the uplands.
Tim, the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming, pressed Mr Christensen to ensure that hill farmers' incomes are protected.
Tim has made the case that hill farmers deserve a better deal because of the environmental 'goods' that they produce for the country. For example, hill farmers work to ensure water management and flood prevention, they maintain and protect the carbon sinks of peatland and woodland; they protect and enhance biodiversity; maintain landscapes and ensure access to the countryside. The current system, the Upland Entry Level Scheme, provides £25million across the country to pay hill farmers for providing for those 'goods'.
UELS money comes through the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU which is currently being renegotiated with changes expected by 2014.
During the meeting, Tim called on Mr Christensen to work with him to ensure that funding for the uplands is protected in CAP negotiations to ensure that hill farmers are better supported and able to continue to play an important role in the agricultural industry.
Commenting Tim said: "For a long time now hill farmers have been massively underappreciated, despite the significant contribution they make to protecting ecosystems; producing food for us to eat and maintaining the countryside.
"I am delighted that Natural England are readjusting their approach to the uplands, with the recent dropping of their 'Uplands Vision' and the appointment of Will Cockbain to the board and making efforts to support our hill farmers.
"What we need now is to continue to press for funding for the uplands to be maintained throughout the ongoing negotiations over CAP reform to give our hill farmers the support they need to keep going."