The ongoing wrangle over the rights of commons graziers and their qualification for single farm payment could soon be resolved, after the efforts of the Federation of Cumbria Commoners.
At a meeting between the Cumbria organisation – which represents over 550 graziers – and officials from the Rural Payments Agency and DEFRA, “significant progress” was made, according to the Cumbria federation’s administrator Fiona Southern.
“On the subject of reliance on the 1965 common register as the sole proof of entitlement to grazing on a common, we made significant progress.
“Farmers with unregistered rights that are let as part of a tenancy agreement from the owner of the common had previously been told that they would be ineligible for the single farm payment.
“But DEFRA has now acknowledged that grazing let with tenancy agreements should be recognised where there is a surplus of grazing,” said Ms Southern.
Although this decision will require ministerial approval, the federation is optimistic it will be granted. The RPA and DEFRA have also indicated that they may be willing to recognise unregistered grazing let by way of a tenancy, even when there isn’t a surplus if there are unclaimed hectares available on a common.
Cumbria MPs Tim Farron and Tony Cunningham joined Lord Inglewood to make representations on the federation’s behalf to Lord Rooker, the RPA minister.
Federation member Julia Aglionby said: “In agreeing to make these changes in the way the SFP is allocated on common grazing land the RPA and DEFRA have shown a willingness to listen to many of the broader issues.”