The NFU has issued a statement denying it is opposed to an increase in the moorland rate for upland farmers.

Union leaders have been under fire in recent months from hill farmers who feel upland producers will be unfairly disadvantaged by the implementation of CAP reform in England .

DEFRA has proposed an 82% uplift in the moorland rate for upland farms, to help compensate for the end of the upland stewardship scheme.

But it postponed a final decision on the moorland rate after the NFU described the proposed uplift as “disproportionately large” .

The issue is controversial because any money moved “up the hill” would be at the expense of the lowlands – and the NFU represents both upland and lowland producers.

The NFU statement follows this week’s council meeting, which saw farmers’ representatives debate the effect of CAP reform on upland farms .

During the meeting, NFU president Peter Kendall said media coverage of the situation had been unfair.

Rather than being opposed to an uplift in payments, the statement says the union wants more information on the effect of an uplift before agreeing on the rate.

The full statement says: “The NFU Council this week reaffirmed that the NFU is emphatically not opposed to an uplift in the rate for the moorlands.

“The NFU recognises moorland farmers are vulnerable and have fewer options, which is why we want further information and analysis on the overall effect of various planned changes and their impact on different categories of farmers before we can take a definitive decision.

“The NFU supported the alignment of payment rates for the lowlands and the SDA non-moorland regions.

“The most important factor to be considered will be the shape of the new environmental land management scheme (NELMS), which will replace the Entry Level Scheme and the Upland Entry Level Scheme. This should become clearer in the coming month.

“The overall CAP budget has been reduced and modulation will be increased in future. The only way to increase payments to farmers in one region is to reduce them in the other two regions.

“The NFU’s consistent position has been that the negative effects of the CAP Reform must be shared as fairly as possible.

“Decisions on increases in the payment rates must therefore be based on clear evidence.”

DEFRA is expected to announce a revised moorland rate before Easter following further economic modelling of the effect on farms.

More on upland farmers