The NFU has joined forces with Cumbrian MP Tim Farron to reinstate the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Hill Farming as concerns about the post-Brexit future for hill farmers continue to grow.
Farmers Guardian Brexit hub contributor Mr Farron, who is agriculture spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, chaired the group for ten years before it was disbanded in 2015.
But now uncertainty surrounding Britain’s future relationship with the EU and the Government’s radical new Agriculture Bill have led to the group’s re-establishment.
An official re-launch will take place later this month, when the APPG will publish a report on the future of hill farming across the UK.
Mr Farron said: “I have been delighted to work with the NFU to get our cross-party group back up and running.
“With the Government planning to remove direct payments which are a lifeline to so many hill farmers, and with the threat of leaving the European Union with no deal still on the table, the future for hill farming has never been more uncertain.
“That is why it is vital that there is a group in Parliament to speak up for the interests of hard-working British hill farmers who are so crucial both to the national economy and to the environment.
“I look forward to working with MPs from all parties, and the NFU, to help secure the most stable future for the industry and a better deal for farmers here in Cumbria and across the country.”
Thomas Binns, chairman of the NFU’s upland forum, told Farmers Guardian the fact that the uplands were put centre stage in the Government’s Health and Harmony consultation paper meant there was an expectation future policy would deliver for hill farmers, but this needed to be guaranteed.
“We all know there are lots of people with lots of agendas,” he said.
“We felt it was important to get the APPG re-established so we could keep parliamentarians with an interest in the uplands kept up-to-date with key information and have them ask key questions as policy is developed.”