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Country News - 2004

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Landscape threat from new farm subsidies?

Tuesday 24 February 2004

SCENIC uplands in areas like the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District could be under threat from the new farm subsidy system, says the Country Land and Business Association.

Because new subsidies will be based on acreage, small hill farms may not be worked properly or abandoned altogether, says the association, in a claim which – if true – would run counter to the Government’s stated objectives of giving more support to small family farms in difficult areas.

Hill farmers have for centuries tended – in fact created – the landscapes much loved by visitors to Britain’s national parks. But, claims the CLA, the new system will encourage them to stop working their land properly, and just pocket the subsidy, or quit altogether leaving the environment untended.

This claim is likely to stir up more controversy amongst hill farmers – few of whom are CLA members – and is likely to draw a hostile reaction from national park authorities, who have been working closely with Government agencies to come up with a system of special payments for hill farmers in recognition of the conservation work they do.


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