The government has published a consultation setting out four options for the future funding of upland areas.
DEFRA secretary Margaret Beckett said hill farmers faced particular challenges and helped to maintain some of the country’s most important and valued landscapes.
“I want to hear from you about how we can ensure sustainable livelihoods for those of you who provide these wider public benefits, while making best use of taxpayers’ money,” she said.
Options set out in the paper include maintaining an allowance along similar lines to the current Hill Farm Allowance, or removing support completely so there would be no specific support for the LFAs.
The other options are offering farmers an area-based LFA payment dependent on all or most of their holding being subject to an agri-environment agreement, or developing the entry level scheme to include options aimed at upland areas.
David Riddle, land use director at the National Trust, said the consultation marked the start of a key debate.
“The Hill Farm Allowance will have a crucial part to play in keeping farming in the hills.
It needs to be reformed in a way that supports a transition to environmentally sustainable land management.”