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MP warns DEFRA Secretary that Government plans could destroy the landscape of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales

December 1, 2020 2:57 PM

Tim speaking in ParliamentOn the floor of the House of Commons yesterday, local MP Tim Farron told DEFRA Secretary George Eustice that Government's new agriculture plans could destroy the landscape of beauty spots such as the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

Speaking in Parliament, Tim said: "British farming genuinely is the best in the world, fundamentally because of the family farming unit upon which it is based.

"The Government's plan to deliver environmental goods through the environmental land management scheme is good and laudable, and we support it.

"However, the transition whereby, in a revolutionary way, people will lose half their income in three years' time - when the average livestock farmer is reliant on basic payment for 60% of their revenue- will lead to hundreds upon hundreds of those family farms going out of business and therefore not being in a position to deliver those environmental goods by 2028.

"The landscape of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales is shaped by centuries of family farming. By accident, the Government could undo all of that in a few short years - even months - so will the Secretary of State think again, not penny pinch, and make sure that the basic payment is rolled over in full until the point at which the environmental land management scheme is available for everyone?"

In response, DEFRA Secretary George Eustice said: "The concept of area-based payments has only been around for about 15 years, and it has not always been in the interests of agriculture.

"The truth is that farmers may be the recipients of the BPS, but they are not the only beneficiaries: the BPS payment has inflated land rents and input costs, prevented people from retiring, and also prevented new entrants from getting on to the land.

"That is why we believe there is a better way to pay and reward farmers in future."

Speaking afterwards, Tim said: "I'm very disappointed that the Secretary of State completely ignored my question and failed to give our local farmers any assurance whatsoever that they will be given the financial support they need to survive the tricky years to come.

"Our farmers feed us and maintain our wonderful landscape - they deserve better."