Hill Farm Allowances will be rolled forward for another three years, but will then be replaced by an Uplands Entry Level Stewardship scheme, rewarding farmers for delivering public goods.

“We consulted on the basis of moving away from compensatory nature of the Hill Farm Allowance and towards a scheme which rewards farmers for maintaining the upland landscape and environment,” said junior DEFRA minister Jeff Rooker.

“After reviewing the consultation responses, we are now minded to put in place a specific uplands strand to the Entry Level Stewardship scheme by no later than 2010.”

In a major change of emphasis, Lord Rooker has also decided to reduce the geographic coverage of the Hill Farm Allowance

Focusing

From 2008 Disadvantaged Areas (DAs) will be removed from the scheme, focusing uplands support on farms in the Severely Disadvantaged Areas (SDA).

“This proposal received general support in the consultation given that, in comparison to the SDA, land in the DA is generally higher grade,” said Lord Rooker

“In addition, the single payment scheme will, over time, tend to favour farmers in the DA in comparison to the SDA, since the DA is subsumed within the lowland region and therefore receives a higher flat rate payment than the SDA.” 

The money saved by limiting the geographic coverage will be retained within the Rural Development Programme for England, to boost the funds available under Environmental Stewardship, including in the uplands.