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‘Government’s plans could be a body blow to Cumbrian farming’ - MP

February 27, 2018 1:46 PM

Commenting on the Government's new plans to remove direct payments for farmers, South Lakes MP Tim Farron said:

"This is simplistic stuff from Michael Gove.

"It's right that we should support farmers to provide public goods such as environmental schemes. However, environmental payments often go to the landowner rather than the tenants who farm the land. Most upland farmers are tenants, so this will particularly hit Cumbria. This could be a body blow to Cumbrian farming.

"At the heart of Michael Gove's plans is the removal of direct payments. Many, if not most, hill farms in Cumbria would be non-viable without these payments. Having won World Heritage Site Status last year, the Government is now risking undermining this by inadvertently creating a big change in our landscape. If hill farms go, the Lake District will look very different.

"These proposals look like they've been written in an office in London in order to win headlines, while not thinking through the real impact on our rural communities.

"The Government's plans look likely to lead to a slow attrition of family farming in places like Cumbria. Not only would that be a tragedy for our farmers, it would damage our landscape and reduce Britain's ability to feed itself.

"The best way to secure environmental benefits is to keep our farmers farming, not to turn them into park wardens."