Agriculture spokesman for the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron has called on the Government to introduce a ‘bespoke’ funding scheme for hill farmers after Brexit.
Mr Farron made the remarks on the latest episode of Farmers Guardian’s podcast, Ploughing Through Brexit.
Discussing his recent decision to re-instate the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Hill Farming, he said: “One thing I raised recently in Defra Questions is the rather shocking fact that 91 per cent of hill farm incomes come from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).
“If the Government is planning to phase it out over seven years, you do not really need to be a super mathematician to know most hill farmers are going to struggle, to put it mildly, unless there are bespoke schemes which allow them to maintain the landscape, the biodiversity, the access and all the other wonderful goods which our hill farmers produce.
“We are aiming to reconstitute in order to make sure there is a real focus on hill farming in the Agriculture Bill. At the moment it does appear to be an afterthought.”
The other guest on the podcast, George Dunn, chief executive at the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA), agreed with Mr Farron that there was a need for Government to put greater emphasis on hill farming.
“The hill farming community have got many fewer options than those further down the hill,” he said.
“We have suggested there should be an amendment to the Agriculture Bill to add to the list of public goods the Government has identified ‘protecting or improving the management of upland landscapes through grazing livestock systems’, because that is something we have ignored for some time.”
To listen to other episodes of Ploughing Through Brexit, visit the Brexit hub.