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Stackyard News Dec 06

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CLA response to announcement of Uplands Entry Level Stewardship

"For a while now we have been very concerned about the future of hill farming.

upland farmland

"Hill farmers have the responsibility for some of our most dramatic and best-loved scenery, some of our most vulnerable habitats and some of our most fragile economic communities. This is the front line in so many respects. It is therefore vital that DEFRA get this scheme right," said David Fursdon, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) in response to the announcement today (Wednesday 13 December) by Jeff Rooker MP on the extension of the Hill Farm Allowance (HFA) to 2009 and the creation of an Uplands Entry Level Stewardship Scheme.

"The CLA acknowledge the drivers towards targeted funding which deliver specific public benefits. The continuation of the HFA from 2007 to 2009 ensures that land managers not only have time to assess the changes, but more importantly will give DEFRA enough time to develop a scheme with a good menu of environmental management options that are workable in an upland farming system. The current Entry Level Scheme has proved unattainable for many farmers in upland areas.

"It was essential that the integration of upland support to more specific environmental delivery followed the broad and shallow nature of the Entry Level Scheme. Undoubtedly there are sites of particular high nature value in the uplands and these, in most cases, are designated and their management funded accordingly. However the value of these areas to biodiversity and public enjoyment are greatly diminished if the management of the land surrounding these sites is not supported. A new uplands scheme must remain available to all and not highly targeted to specific sites.

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