Hill farmer takes on top NFU role

Peter Atkin, new chair of NFU
Peter Atkin, new chair of NFU
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A PEAK District hill farmer has been appointed as the new county chairman of Derbyshire NFU.

Peter Atkin, of Rowlee Farm in Bamford, took over as chairman from Etwall farmer Angela Sargent at the NFU’s national conference in Birmingham earlier this week.

Peter farms 1,300 hectares, all rented from the National Trust, running 750 Swaledale ewes crossed with Swaledale and Lonk tups and finishing all his lambs for meat. He farms in partnership with his three daughters and son-in-law.

Active in the NFU in Derbyshire and nationally for many years, Peter’s past posts include branch chairman for Hope Valley NFU, and he was a national delegate for the county on the NFU’s Hill Farming committee in the 1980s.

He said: “One of my great concerns at the moment is the intervention of government and outside bodies in how farmers farm. Derbyshire’s uplands have been farmed in a traditional ways for centuries, looking after the landscape and the wildlife, so short-term interventions won’t help: my thinking is, if it isn’t broke, it doesn’t need fixing.

“And we need to ensure that it is active farmers who are receiving industry support, especially here in the hills. There is a proposal under the CAP reform proposals to define an “active farmer”; let’s hope that it is real farmers who are eligible for both support and environmental payments.

“I’m also concerned about how we continue to help and support the tenanted sector: about a third of farmers are tenants. We need to ensure they can make a reasonable return after rents to keep them farming.

“And often renting a farm is the first rung on the ladder for new entrants into the industry; if we don’t have those farms with houses and buildings available at a reasonable price, then how will our industry attract new blood?”