THE NATIONAL Beef Association is arguing for government support in England‘s Severely Disadvantaged Areas to increase dramatically.

The association is putting together a proposal to DEFRA that will justify the spending of around £100m/yr after the current £27.5m Hill Farming Allowance ends in Dec 2006.

It is arguing that without more money there will be significant cattle population loss in the uplands and avoidable environmental, social and economic damage will be the result.

“We have told DEFRA that its sustainability targets for the uplands have no chance of being achieved unless more realistic funding is made available than is currently being discussed,” said the NBA‘s SDA committee chairman Christopher Thomas-Everard.

“Without more help than is at present on the table more sheep will be preferred to suckler cows and there will be a rapid deterioration in the range of plants, insects and mammals.”

Mr Thomas-Everard said environmental organisations had already confirmed that they anticipate a 35% fall in the SDA suckler herd.

“We ourselves fear that the drop could be even steeper in those areas which have high concentrations of relatively small, family run, mixed holdings unless preventative action is taken.”