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Hill Farming

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 10th February 2020.

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Photo of Lord Jones Lord Jones Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to enhance the prospects of hill farmers after Brexit.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Hill farmers will benefit from our future agriculture policies, along with other types of farmers and land managers. Having left the EU, we will replace the current subsidy system, which simply pays farmers based on the total amount of land farmed, and instead reward them for the work they do to enhance the environment and improve animal welfare. We will also help farmers to produce high quality food in a more sustainable way.

Our upland landscapes and habitats are well placed to provide the public goods that are valued by society and our intention is that upland farmers will be sufficiently rewarded to deliver them.

We want to give all farmers, including hill farmers in the uplands, as much certainty as possible. The Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) (DPLC) Bill has received Royal Assent in January 2020. It will provide continuity for farmers across all upland areas in the UK and ensure farming subsidies are paid for 2020. Furthermore, we have guaranteed that any projects under CAP Pillar 2 where funding has been agreed before the end of 2020 will be funded for their full lifetime. This means that the Government will continue to fund farmers, land managers and rural businesses for these projects until they finish.

Our Transition plans, as indicated in the new Agriculture Bill, are based on a seven-year Transition period. This will give hill farmers and land managers time to adapt and plan for the changes we need to make in moving to the new approach.

During the transition we will offer financial assistance to enable upland farmers to invest in the equipment, technology and infrastructure that they need to improve their productivity, manage the environment sustainably and deliver other public goods. We will be also be investing over £1 million in 2020 in a package for farmers to support their business resilience and personal wellbeing as we go through these changes.

Our new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme will enable upland farmers to receive payment for the vital environmental public goods they provide, alongside the crucial role they play in vibrant communities and producing delicious food.

Upland farmers play a vital role as stewards of the countryside. They already provide many environmental benefits, such as clean air and water, and help maintain our most iconic landscapes. Upland farmers will therefore be well placed to benefit from our new ELM scheme, which will reward farmers for the public goods they provide.

Hill farms are an iconic part of our heritage. The new Agriculture Bill provides reassurance that hill farmers will be able to benefit for the service they provide in protecting our cultural and natural heritage.

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