30 August 2002

Hill support up 10%

SUPPORT to hill farmers will increase by 10% next year, the government announced on Tues, Aug 27. But there will be a fall in "safety-net" supplements which compensate for changes in the subsidy system.

Junior DEFRA minister Alun Michael said he wanted to help farmers manage the countrys uplands. "Next years extra money will provide a welcome boost. We will be able to increase next years payment rates well above those of this year and this will help offset the effect on some hill farmers of the change to the safety-net."

The NFU said there was a degree of concern about the safety-net. But NFU deputy president Tim Bennett added: "This rise in payments is good news. Farming in the uplands is important for both the landscape and the rural economy."

Subject to European approval, the budget will rise from £37.4m to £41.1m in 2003. Full-rate Hill Farm Allowances for severely disadvantaged land will rise to £42.74/ha (£17.29/acre) from £37.79/ha (£15.29/acre) in 2002. Disadvantaged land will receive £22.90/ha (£9.27/acre). Moors and common land will receive £16.02/ha (£6.48/acre).

But safety-net payments will only guarantee to bring payments up to 50% of what a farmer received in 2000. &#42