2014-02-17   facebook twitter rss

Disaster Looms for Upland Farming and Environment

The Tenant Farmers Association is warning that unless DEFRA and the Welsh Government change tack on CAP reform implementation, they risk creating a disaster for the uplands.

TFA Chief Executive George Dunn said that the focus of the concern is on how moorland areas in the uplands will be treated under the new CAP arrangements to be implemented from 01 January 2015.

Swaledale Sheep

photo © Farm-Images

“There has been much debate in both England and Wales about whether different rates of payment under the new CAP support schemes should apply to farm land depending on whether it is in the lowlands, the uplands or in moorland areas.

The TFA has said all along that payment rates in the lowland and upland areas should be the same whereas moorland areas should be treated differently given the extent to which non-agriculturally active land owners in moorland areas could be able to capitalise on payments illegitimately,” said Mr Dunn.

“Instead the TFA has made a strong case for the need to have an agri-environment scheme for moorland areas focused on grazing livestock to ensure that farmers in those areas are properly rewarded for the significant agri-environment benefits that are provided through grazing livestock systems in these most fragile and important areas. Leaving moorland farmers without the benefit of that support is unsustainable and unjustifiable.

The TFA has therefore urged both the Welsh Government and DEFRA to reconsider their positions and to discuss with the industry what might be possible to bridge the gap between sustainability and disaster,” said Mr Dunn.

“So far both the Welsh Government and DEFRA have said they are not inclined to follow the TFA’s advice, causing both alarm and distress for individuals farming in moorland areas and those concerned about the conservation. These areas cannot be left lacking sufficient support without causing major agricultural and environmental detriment,” said Mr Dunn.

“If neither Government is prepared to think creatively about this issue we have no option but to argue that payment rates under the basic payment scheme should be increased for moorland in line with other areas. However there will need to be a robust set of criteria to ensure that the payment is only received by active graziers and is not siphoned off to line the pockets of other land owners,” said Mr Dunn.

TFA

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