8 August 2000
Union wants hill scheme clarified
By FWi Staff
THE ministry of agriculture must clarify its plans for the future of hill farming, say English farmers representatives.
Because under the new Hill Farm Allowance (HFA) scheme the sector will be seriously underfunded, claims the National Farmers Union.
Payments to farmers in England will be 13/ha in moorland areas; 18.60/ha in disadvantaged areas; and 34.40/ha in severely disadvantaged areas.
But the NFU says it is appalled that a new moorland classification is being introduced without indicating to farmers the area of moorland on their holdings.
“As things stand farmers are being left perilously out on a limb,” said NFU less favoured areas committee chairman Peter Allen.
At an emergency meeting on Monday (07 August) the committee called for clarification from the ministry on:
- Which areas fall within the newly-created moorland category
- Eligible livestock for the purpose of calculating stocking densities
- Transfer of land in relation to the safety net provision
- Dairy land apportionment
Mr Allen said: “The seriousness of this situation for hill farmers in England cannot be overestimated.
“If MAFF is serious about maintaining hillfarming, urgent clarification must be provided.”
Last week the NFU warned that the payments, made under the HFA system, will redistribute support among farmers.
The government has pledged that farmers who lose under the arrangements will have losses restored by 90% in 2001; 80% in 2002 and 50% in 2003.
But NFU president Ben Gill said ministers had failed to make available new funds – a decision reflected in the plan to reduce the HFA budget in future years.