29 March 2002

Hill farms benefit

ALMOST all hill farmers in England are set to benefit from an increase to the Hill Farmers Allowance payment for 2002, according to the Rural Payments Agency.

The RPA reckoned 98% of hill farmers would benefit. The agency announced the HFA payments for 2002 would be 9.8% higher than last years rates and 20% higher than the rates previously announced for 2002, as the take up of HFA had not been as high as anticipated.

Two further changes have been made to the payment criteria of the HFA to minimise the ongoing impact of F&M.

The minimum stocking density requirement will be waived for farmers whose normal stocking has been disrupted by the cull or livestock movement restrictions.

Safety net payments in 2003, introduced to allow farmers time to adjust, will not be held down to the forage area claimed in 2001, if it is the lowest area in the series.

The decision was made for farmers who reduced their forage area claimed in 2001, and increased it again in 2002.

Alastair Davy of the Hill Farmer Initiative said he was pleased the RPA had made changes to help farmers affected by F&M. &#42