15 September 2000
More money for English hill farmers

by FWi staff

THE government has announced that an extra 4.8million will be made available to English farmers under its new Hill Farm Allowance scheme.

The additional protection will be used to fund safety net proposals which the government claims will restrict losses to livestock producers under the scheme.

The budget for the safety net by 3.8 million in 2001 (from 39.9 million to 43.7 million) and by 1.0 million in 2002 (from 39.9 million to 40.9 million).

These totals include the additional 45 million spread over the four years, 2001-2004, already announced in the Action Plan for Agriculture.

Agriculture minister Nick Brown acknowledged that some farmers would gain and some would lose under the new arrangements due to start in February.

Mr Brown said: “I remain convinced that the only way we can secure a viable future for hill farming is to change from production subsidies to area payments.

He added: “Such a change will reduce the incentive for overgrazing and bring hill farming closer to the market.”

Mr Brown said the scheme would need to be reviewed in 2003. In the meantime, he aims to develop a more sophisticated area payment structure.

“We will also be reviewing our agri-environment schemes to ensure that they best protect our valuable and diverse upland landscapes,” he said.

The Government expects the European Commission to approve the revised arrangements shortly. It plans to make the first payments early next year.