Hardship in the hills for farmers

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A Government Upland Policy Review published this week has been attacked for failing to give the Peak District National Park an economic role in fighting today’s “hardship in the hills”, according to rural watchdog, the Country Landowners Association.

CLA East Midlands director, Andrew Shirley, said the report was fundamentally flawed in its assumption that hill farming could become economically viable in its own right.

“The Government’s ongoing support for the Uplands Entry Level Scheme is, of course, very welcome – but we do not see it as a long term solution to the economic hardship being seen in the hills.”

He welcomed the new rural Community Broadband Fund, but said that Defra had ignored the request from the CLA for the Peak District National Park to have an explicit economic role, and had failed to support recommendations that planning policy should be eased to allow diversification in upland areas, and that retirement homes should be allowed on Uplands farms.

But the National Farmers’ Union broadly welcomed the review’s £36 million package of measures aimed at supporting England’s hill farmers.

However, NFU uplands spokesman Will Cockbain said: “We remain concerned that tenant farmers, who are in the majority in the uplands, are also able to access these potential new markets effectively.

“It is disappointing, though, that the report fails to address the tensions that remain between tenants and landlords, something that the NFU will be pressing the Secretary of State to intervene in.”