25 November 1999
Hill men can’t afford subsidy change

By Farmers Weekly staff

HILL farmers cannot afford to have funding cut and new “arbitrary” stocking density limits to the hill farming support scheme, the government will be told.

The National Farmers Union is concerned that changes to the Hill Livestock Compensation Allowance support scheme could threaten hill farmers livelihoods.

It says the government is on course to cut support for hill farmers by at least £89 million between 2001 and 2006 as a result of a £14.8m cut in annual support.

Peter Allen, the unions hill farming committee chairman, led a delegation in Brussels on Monday, to discuss proposed changes with EU Commission officials.

“There can be no question of reducing support if the new scheme is to be effective in maintaining the farming activities in our hill and upland areas,” he said.

The NFU is also concerned about the effect of proposed changes to stocking density calculations as they currently exist under the HLCA scheme.

NFU president Ben Gill said stocking rates should not be determined by arbitrary limits. “The only justification is to avoid clear environmental damage,” he said.